Wall Street Journal Backs Potential FDA Commissioner Nominee McClellan
White House health policy adviser Mark McClellan, reportedly the "front-runner" for President Bush's nomination to head the FDA, would be "the first FDA commissioner in memory who actually knows something about economics and the costs of regulation," a Wall Street Journal editorial states. The possible nomination of McClellan, a physician and member of Bush's Council of Economic Advisers, shows that Bush is "trying to avoid his father's mistake of treating the vital FDA post as an afterthought," the editorial adds. Former President Bush had nominated David Kessler, who as FDA commissioner "assail[ed] the tobacco industry, rather than speed up the review of drugs needed by desperately ill patients," the Journal states. McClellan, on the other hand, in various studies has "pointed out that rising health costs in recent decades have been more than justified by superior medical outcomes, that expensive yet effective prescription drugs often help lower overall medical costs and that tort reform could save health care consumers ... billions of dollars." McClellan's nomination also would "oblige, albeit shrewdly," a requirement by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) -- the country's "leading health care regulator" -- that an FDA commissioner nominee not have connections to the pharmaceutical industry, the editorial adds. The Journal says that "Kennedy's no-business-experience standard for government service" means Bush nominees "are barred from working in an area that [they] actually know something about." While Kennedy might get "what he wants" if McClellan is nominated, "he might regret it," the editorial states, concluding, "Maybe Kennedy thinks antibiotics and anti-AIDS drugs were discovered in the basement of the Health and Human Services building" (Wall Street Journal, 7/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.