Dr. Joseph F. Sadusk Jr. 68, a medical school professor and retired drug company official who was medical director of the Food and Drug Administration from 1964 to 1966, died Monday at a Walnut Creek, Calif., nursing home following a stroke.
Dr. Sadusk was serving as chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health of the George Washington University Medical School when he was named head of the FDA's Bureau of Medicine.
Some observers expected his appointment as head of the government unit charged with overseeing the effectiveness of drugs used by the American public to herald a scientific renaissance at the FDA.
Dr. Sausk ran into double-barreled trouble. Both he and Congress agreed that the FDA needed streamlining but disagreed on its role in drug regulation.
The House intergovernmental relations subcommittee had been holding hearings stemming from accusations that the FDA was allowing dangerous or needless drugs to reach the American public.
After taking over as medical director, Dr. Sadusk frequently was called before the subcommittee. He was criticized for generally siding with drug manufacturers.
Dr. Sadusk took the position that it was the responsibility of the FDA to inform physicians on the efficacy and safety of drugs but not to tie the doctors hands with dogmatic directives on drug use.
He recognized the need to review both new and old drugs but emphasized that to do this task he needed a larger and better paid staff.
Dr. Sadusk said that the hearings were taking up too much of both his and his staff's time, making it impossible for the Bureau of Medicine to function.
At loggerheads with both Capitol Hill and his superiors at the FDA, he retired in early 1966 to take a post as professor of medicine and associate dean at Johns Hopkins University's medical school.
A year later he became a vice president of Parke, Davis & Co., where he worked until 1971. He later joined the Warner-Lambert Co. as senior vice president and director of research before retiring and moving to California in 1974.
A native of Baltimore, Dr. Sadusk earned bachelor's and medical degrees at Johns Hopkins University. He worked as an assistant resident in obstetrics at the University's hospital until 1939 when he joined the faculty of Yale University's medical school.
He served in the Army Medical Corps in the South Pacific during World War II where he earned the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Dr. Sadusk gained a reputation as an authority on tropical medicine and served as a consultant to a number of government agencies on the subject.
After the war he returned to Yale, later teaching at Stanford University's medical school before joining George Washington University in 1962 as a professor of preventive medicine and community health.
Dr. Sadusk belonged to a number of professional organizations including the American Federation of Clinical Research and the American Society of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
He was a member of the Cosmos Club.
He is survived by his wife, Marian, of the home in Walnut Creek; three daughters, Estelle Beemer, of McLean, Barbara Perry, of Cockeysville, Md., and Eve Khan, of Steattle, Wash.; two sons, George, of the District of Columbia, and William, of Walnut Creek his mother, Eve Sadusk, of Baltimore, and one grandchild.