Food & Drug commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg named her office’s top lawyer, John Taylor III, to be the temporary replacement for outgoing deputy commish Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.
Taylor, counselor to the commissioner will take on the new role Jan. 10, an FDA spokeswoman told MassDevice. Sharfstein’s last day on the job is Jan. 7.
Sharfstein, formerly Baltimore’s top public health official, is slated to be named secretary of health and mental hygiene for Maryland by Gov. Martin O’Malley.
"John Taylor will be acting in the role for 60 days beginning Monday," spokeswoman Meghan Scott wrote in an email.
Starting with his brief tenure as acting commissioner in 2009, Sharfstein shook up the agency in a series of moved aimed at addressing safety issues. Most prominently, he helmed a probe into the watchdog’s controversial 2008 clearance of ReGen Biologics Inc.’s (OTC:RGBO) Menaflex knee implant. That probe led to the agency’s decision to put the device through its paces again, which in turn prompted the rescission of the clearance and a feisty response from ReGen.
The Menaflex 510(k) clearance in December 2008 came despite the fact that the device often failed and required second operations — and over the objections of FDA scientists who opposed clearing the device. In September 2009 the agency admitted that undue influence from four New Jersey congressmen and former commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach affected the decision to green-light the device and announced an investigation into the foofaraw.
In March, the agency’s Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health decided that, while the implant is reasonably safe, its effectiveness needed to be further analyzed. That decision came the same week that the FDA released a report saying Regen failed to produce adequate evidence that device was safe before it was cleared to hit the market.