At FDA, Torti Out, Sharfstein In, For Now

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Joshua Sharfstein, the Obama administration’s nominee for the No. 2 job at the FDA, will become acting chief of the agency on Monday, according to media reports.


Here’s a news alert from


“Joshua Sharfstein, selected by the White House for the No. 2 job at FDA, will take over Monday as acting commissioner. Sharfstein will replace acting Commissioner Frank Torti, who notified agency employees Friday (March 27) that he is returning to Wake Forest University.


“Sharfstein will likely lead the agency until commissioner-designate Margaret Hamburg is confirmed. President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that he had tapped Hamburg to lead the agency and Sharfstein as her principal deputy, a position that does not require Senate confirmation. (Hamburg’s nomination has been sent to the Senate, but a hearing hasn’t been scheduled.) The arrangement — and Sharfstein in particular — has sparked some concern in the pharmaceutical industry but drawn near-unanimous praise from consumer and public health groups.


“In an agency-wide e-mail obtained by FDA Week, Torti said he’s returning to Wake Forest to take on a newly created position in the school’s medical center. Torti chaired the cancer biology department at Wake Forest before joining FDA last April.


“‘My time with FDA has proved to be one of the most valuable experiences of my professional career, and it has been my honor to work with my accomplished colleagues at the FDA whom I now count as friends,’ he said in the e-mail.


“Torti previously worked as FDA’s chief scientist and principal deputy commissioner. He took over as acting commissioner when Andrew von Eschenbach left the agency in January.”  — Sam Baker (

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