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Letter: Biden Must Reject Big Pharma CEO as FDA Commissioner

President Should Select Candidate With Independence From Big Pharma

WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Joe Biden should reject Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath as a candidate for Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and instead select a candidate with demonstrated independence from Big Pharma, Public Citizen and 25 groups said in a letter to the White House today.

“The country desperately needs an FDA Commissioner who will reverse the decades-long trend in which the agency’s relationship with the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries has grown ever cozier — resulting in regulatory capture of the agency by industry,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

Recent media reports have suggested that McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a Big Pharma trade association, has been floated as a leading potential candidate for FDA commissioner.

Since leading BIO in Summer 2020, McMurry-Heath has represented the interests of hundreds of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies regulated by the FDA and has also previously served in leadership positions at the Big Pharma corporation Johnson & Johnson. Such a close professional relationship with Big Pharma would create conflicts of interest for McMurry-Heath and undermine the FDA’s independence, the letter said.

“The next FDA Commissioner must be someone who has been dedicated to advancing public health and unquestionably will place the public interest ahead of the interests of FDA-regulated industries,” the letter read. “Dr. McMurry-Heath is not that person.”

Among the group submitting the letter were the American Medical Student Association, Doctors for America, National Center for Health Research, Progressive Change Institute and Revolving Door Project.