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Can this guy save the FDA?

The Food and Drug Administration is bringing in a Wake Forest University cancer specialist to be it’s chief scientist, a new position created to help restore some credibility at the agency. Media General’s Sean Mussenden writes about Dr. Frank Torti’s appointment in his story, “North Carolina cancer doctor named number two at FDA.” Torti certainly has his work cut out for him. The FDA is a lilting ship having seen a slew of problems in the last year, including tainted imports and serious questions raised about the agency’s drug testing and approval process after problems with several drugs already on the market came to light.

From Mussenden’s story:

In recent years, the agency has had difficulty retaining and recruiting scientists, as some have complained that their judgment about the safety of drugs was overridden by political appointees with a pro-pharmaceutical industry bias, said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of health research for Public Citizen, a consumer watchdog group and frequent FDA critic.

“There’s a nefarious relationship between the FDA and the drug industry,” he said. “That creates a poor scientific environment, and they’ve lost a lot of good people because of it.”

Wolfe, a seasoned public health advocate, said he was not familiar with Torti. But Torti will report to “the worst FDA commissioner we’ve ever had,” Wolfe said.

“Unless the person who is chief scientist drives themselves – without impediment from the commissioner – to do a much better job as a regulatory agency, then we’re in a lot of trouble.”