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Janet Woodcock

Acting FDA Commissioner

Janet Woodcock is a career civil servant of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) serving in various leadership roles at the FDA since 1986. In May 2020, Woodcock temporarily left her recent role as the Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of the FDA to head therapeutics initiatives for Operation Warp Speed amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Woodcock’s role was announced on January 20, 2021 and is listed on the FDA’s website. Woodcock is also reportedly under consideration as Biden’s potential pick for FDA Commissioner. Initial research provided insufficient information to allow EF to apply a rating to this candidate as of February 2, 2021.

Woodcock Was Reported As Acting Commissioner For The Food And Drug Administration On January 14, 2021

Bloomberg News First Reported Woodcock As The Acting FDA Commissioner On January 14, 2021. “Woodcock is expected to serve as acting head of the drug regulator after Biden’s inauguration next week…” [Bloomberg News, 1/14/21

Center Watch Reported Woodcock Will Serve As The Acting FDA Commissioner Beginning On January 20, 2021. “FDA veteran Janet Woodcock has reportedly been short-listed by the incoming Biden administration to serve as the agency’s next commissioner and will also likely serve as acting chief until the position is filled. Woodcock is expected to assume the role of acting FDA commissioner on Jan. 20 after President-elect Biden is inaugurated and current chief Stephen Hahn steps down from the agency.” [Center Watch, 1/18/21

Bloomberg News Also Reported Woodcock Is A Top Candidate For The More Permanent Role Of FDA Commissioner. “Janet Woodcock, a 30-year veteran of the Food and Drug Administration, is being considered by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as commissioner of the agency, according to people familiar with the selection process…while being vetted by the Biden team for the permanent job along with former FDA principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, according to the people.” [Bloomberg News, 1/14/21

Bloomberg News Stated The Timing Of Woodcock’s Roles Remains Unclear. “If Biden were to choose Woodcock, it’s unclear whether she would remain acting commissioner during the confirmation process. There have been past instances where an acting head stayed in the post while lawmakers weighed their nomination.” [Bloomberg News, 1/14/21

Woodcock Expressed A Commitment To Using Evidence-Based Science

Woodcock Contributed To An Op-Ed With Other FDA Executives Assuring Their Commitment To Using Evidence-Based Science Amid Political Turmoil. “We are the senior career civil servants who direct the work of the various centers at the FDA. Together we are responsible for over 17,000 employees, and among us we have over 100 years of experience at FDA. We care deeply about our agency, its mission and its people…We absolutely understand that the FDA, like other federal executive agencies, operates in a political environment…we and our career staff do the best by public health when we are the decision-makers, arriving at those decisions based on our unbiased evaluation of the scientific evidence…” [USA Today, 9/10/20

Woodcock Is Viewed As A Dependable Career Scientist. “Not only was [Stephen] Hahn’s time as [FDA] commissioner defined by the pandemic, it was also defined by constant public struggles with the demands of the Trump White House to approve untested treatment options, particularly as the 2020 election neared. In August, Hahn was forced to walk back efficacy statements made about convalescent plasma for COVID-19 during a White House briefing…as a career regulator, Woodcock will be seen as a steady hand for the agency until the Biden administration can name a new commissioner.” [BioSpace, 1/14/21

Woodcock Supported Using Evidence-Based Science During The FDA’s Approval Processes Of Plan B And Medication Abortion

Woodcock Was At The Helm Of FDA Leadership During The Approval Of Plan B. “The Food and Drug Administration Thursday evening approved over-the-counter sale, with no age restrictions, of Plan B One-Step. That's the morning-after pill whose status has been the subject of a dozen years of political wrangling and legal dispute. The action came after a court order issued in April by a federal district court judge in New York. The Obama administration originally appealed the ruling, but when it became clear that it would lose, agreed to make the product available as ordered. ‘Over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States,’ said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a statement.” [NPR, 6/21/13

Planned Parenthood Action Fund Commended The FDA For Updated, Evidence-Based Protocols For Medication Abortion While Woodcock Served Among FDA Leadership. “Yesterday, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved new protocols for medication abortion that are rooted in science — not politics — and that encourage all 50 states to provide it through an evidence-based standard. Although this label change does nothing to get intrusive laws out of women’s exam rooms, it does represent a significant step forward for reproductive health...Simply put, the ‘new’ protocol aims to improve the use of medication abortion. The FDA’s announcement is a significant step forward for science and women’s health — it means that health care providers can provide medication abortion according to the highest standard of care established after more than 15 years of research and experience.” [Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 3/31/16

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