FDA hires former Dartmouth dean to new post as part of rejig

BANGALORE Wed Jul 13, 2011 11:45pm EDT

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BANGALORE (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has named former Dartmouth Medical School Dean Stephen Spielberg to the newly created position of deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco, according to an internal letter sent to FDA employees that was obtained by Reuters.

The move is part FDA's goal of overhauling its management structure to better regulate an increasingly complex medical industry. The agency has also initiated a search to fill the newly created chief operating officer position.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg promoted Deborah Autor, currently a director of the agency's compliance office, to the job of deputy commissioner for global regulatory operations and policy, according to the letter.

"The new organizational alignments more accurately reflect the agency's responsibilities, subject matter expertise and mandates in an ever more complex world, where products and services do not fit into a single category," Hamburg wrote in the letter.

Earlier this year, former Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, left the agency to run the state of Maryland's health department.

Under Hamburg and Sharfstein, the agency had become more aggressive in its oversight of companies for product-safety problems, shoddy manufacturing and misleading advertisements.

Spielberg, who most recently has served as director of personalized medicine at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, has previously worked with Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co.

The FDA oversees about 25 percent of the U.S. economy including prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, medical devices, most foods and many other consumer products.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad, Anna Yukhananov and Himank Sharma; Editing by Vinu Pilakkott)

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