Influencers 2010

Influencer: Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA

The Government Watchdog Has Grown Teeth Under This Commissioner Who Bears Watching

By Published on .

CHICAGO ( -- Margaret Hamburg is leading a more aggressive FDA that has the marketing world taking notice.

Margaret Hamburg, commissioner, FDA
Margaret Hamburg, commissioner, FDA
"On a number of fronts she's moved to make changes," said Mark Senak, a drug industry consultant who runs a blog called Most noticeably for marketers, Dr. Hamburg has increased enforcement. The Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications had issued 52 enforcement letters in 2010 as of late December, up from 22 in 2008 at the end of the Bush administration.

She has also overseen highly publicized product recalls, including a massive recall of eggs potentially tainted with salmonella. Under Dr. Hamburg, the FDA has already seized on new tobacco regulatory power to propose bolder health warnings on packs of cigarettes, including a scene from a morgue.

A Harvard Medical School grad, Dr. Hamburg first made waves as New York City health commissioner in the 1990s when she was credited with curbing the spread of tuberculosis and boosting needle exchange programs. "She understands public health from a ground-level perspective," which has allowed the FDA to "discuss what it has done in more human terms," said Peter Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner.

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