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Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is stepping down from her role at the agency next month.
"It has been a privilege to serve as your FDA Commissioner for almost six years. So it is with very mixed emotions that I ... inform you that I plan to step down as FDA commissioner at the end of March 2015," she wrote in a letter to her staff.
Hamburg added that the decision wasn't easy and that her tenure at the FDA "has been the most rewarding" of her career. She cited accomplishments such as creating a modernized food safety system that will reduce foodborne illness and taking critical steps to reduce the death and disease caused by tobacco.
"At the heart of all of these accomplishments is a strong commitment to science as the foundation of our regulatory decision-making and of our integrity as an agency," she said.
She also listed the implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act among the highlights of her tenure. "Our tobacco compliance and enforcement program has entered into agreements with numerous state and local authorities to enforce the ban on the sale of tobacco products to children and teens; conducted close to 240,000 inspections; written more than 12,100 warning letters to retailers; proposed the extremely important foundational 'deeming' rule; and broken new ground for the FDA with the launch of the agency's first public education campaigns to prevent and reduce tobacco use among our nation's youth," Hamburg explained.
Pamela G. Bailey, president/CEO of Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), commended Hamburg for her years of dedicated service as FDA commissioner. "Under her leadership, the agency successfully ushered in the most sweeping set of reforms to our nation’s food safety system in a generation through the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). She was an activist commissioner in the best sense of the term: personally engaged in the important issues and always seeking the views of all stakeholders.”
Hamburg became the 21st commissioner of food and drugs on May 18, 2009. The second woman to be nominated for this position, she is an experienced medical doctor, scientist and public health executive.
Stephen Ostroff, who joined the joined FDA in 2013 and it currently its chief scientist, will fill Hamburg's vacating post on an interim basis until a new commissioner is named.