FDA Names Acting Women’s Health Director
FDA on Friday named Theresa Toigo, director of the agency's Office of Special Health Issues, acting director of the Office of Women's Health, the Washington Post reports. The announcement comes three days after the agency sent an e-mail notice to women's groups and others announcing the appointment to the post of Norris Alderson, the agency's associate commissioner for science, who has spent much of his career in FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine, (Kaufman, Washington Post, 9/20).
Toigo replaces Susan Wood, former director of the women's health office, who late last month resigned from the agency in protest of its action to indefinitely defer a decision on Barr Laboratories' application for nonprescription sales of its emergency contraceptive Plan B. Wood, a biologist, had served as assistant FDA commissioner for women's health since 2000 (California Healthline, 9/6).
Toigo has a bachelor's degree in pharmacy and a master's degree in business from Rutgers University (FDA release, 9/16). Wood said Toigo is "a very capable and dedicated person who will do an excellent job." Alderson was not mentioned in FDA's statement regarding Toigo's appointment.
FDA spokesperson Suzanne Trevino on Monday said that Alderson had never been named to the post and that her office knew nothing about the statement regarding his alleged appointment. "There was no official decision until we announced Theresa Toigo's appointment on Friday," Trevino said. However, several women's groups said they received an e-mail announcing Alderson's appointment and he was listed last week in an HHS directory as acting director of the office.
In addition, some people who spoke with staff in the women's health office said that Alderson last week was introduced to the staff as the new acting director, according to the Post. "Once again, this episode shows the agency's complete tone-deafness," Reproductive Health Technologies Project Director Kirsten Moore said, adding, "It underscores our concern about the degree of competence at the leadership level and about political appointees who just don't know much" about the issues before them (Washington Post, 9/20).