One week into the Obama Administration and the choice of a new Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration may be only days away. This is a critical moment for anyone who will face a life-threatening or life-shortening disease or disability. Aging Baby Boomers take note: in time, if not right now, the FDA choice will affect you directly and personally.
We’re living through a Golden Age of medical discovery powered by advances in genomics, proteomics, micro-surgery and sophisticated diagnostics. Perhaps in the near future we could have stem cells treatments that repair damaged spinal cords, drugs that preserve memory and function for Alzheimer’s victims, and that literally cure cancer, or at minimum make it a manageable disease. There are no guarantees of course. And that’s why an FDA committed to medical progress and innovation is so important. Every new treatment for heart diseases, stroke, or diabetes and every potential cure for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer first must pass muster with FDA reviewers and meet standards of safety and efficacy. The new FDA Commissioner must give at least as high priority to shepherding new medical miracles through the regulatory pipeline as responding to headlines about tainted tomatoes or peanut butter. Dozens of respected patient groups and research advocacy organizations are urging officials of the Obama Administration to think of patients first and their need for life-saving medical innovations. To view a letter signed by 35 patient groups listing the qualifications of a “pro-cures” FDA Commissioner click here. If you want to add your voice to our effort, contact some of the most influential U.S. Senators on this issue – Senators Edward Kennedy (D., MA), Michael Enzi (R., WY), Max Baucus, (D., MT) and Charles Grassley (R., IA). But you have to act soon.