January 30, 2009 / 7:54 PM / 10 years ago

Obama's FDA pick to come within days: spokesman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama plans to announce soon his pick to head the Food and Drug Administration to help create a new regulatory structure to protect the nation’s food supply, the White House said on Friday.

“The president will have a new commissioner of the FDA in the coming days,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a press briefing.

The news comes amid a massive recall of hundreds of products containing bacteria-tainted peanuts that have sickened more than 500 people in at least 43 states.

Gibbs did not have any further comment on the president’s choice or the outbreak. He pointed to career employees at the FDA and other agencies who were doing their jobs to protect Americans.

The FDA also regulates pharmaceuticals, medical devices and other products.

“Each of these agencies has loyal and dedicated career public servants that can ensure that the safety that needs to happen, as it relates to the FDA or some other charge of government, is being carried out in a way that meets the president’s expectations,” Gibbs told reporters.

Drugmakers, consumer advocates and others have been anxious for Obama to tap the next leader at the agency, which did not have permanent commissioner for more than half of former President George W. Bush’s tenure.

Reporting by Susan Heavey and David Alexander, editing by Jackie Frank

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