He may have changed jobs but newly confirmed Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Mark McClellan, M.D., is not likely to slip off the radar of President Bush.
Previously the president's healthcare policy adviser, McClellan, 39, earned Senate approval earlier this month to head the FDA after nearly two years in the White House. Although he will no longer report directly to the president, McClellan may quickly be tapped to carry out Bush administration healthcare initiatives.
"Mark has been on my staff with the Council of Economic Advisors and he will soon take over the FDA to ... make sure the policy I'm announcing is fully implemented," Bush said last week in a Rose Garden ceremony announcing an administration initiative to make generic drugs more easily available.
McClellan, a Harvard-trained physician with a doctorate in economics, has the president's ear on a range of health policy issues from the uninsured to prescription-drug coverage under Medicare. Prior to joining the Bush administration, McClellan served as associate professor of medicine and economics at Stanford University and as deputy assistant secretary in the Clinton Treasury Department.
The FDA has not had a commissioner since Bush took office almost two years ago.
"This nomination to a major public health position is long overdue," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said during McClellan's confirmation hearing early this month. "McClellan has an impressive background."