Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Margaret Hamburg

Highs: Under Hamburg, who has a strong background in public health and bioterrorism defense, the FDA has stepped up its efforts to protect the nation's food and drug supply. Its most notable action this year, however, involved the government's war on tobacco. One year after Congress gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco, Hamburg guided the agency to limit the marketing of cigarettes to children, remove "light" and "low-tar" labels from cigarette packaging (a recent Surgeon General's report concluded that so-called light cigarettes are no less harmful to smokers than regular cigarettes), enlarge the health warning labels on smokeless tobacco and propose new, graphic warning labels for cigarette packages.

Lows: Following several studies questioning the safety of the diabetes medication Avandia, the FDA was forced to severely restrict its use. Previous investigations had shown that the risks of heart problems associated with Avandia were brought to the agency's attention both before it was approved and after it hit the market.

Alice Park