After waiting almost a year for their new commissioner, Arthur Hull Hayes, to make his personnel moves, the folks at the Food and Drug Administration had just about settled their nerves. Then, wham, both shoes dropped at once.
Hayes named a new chief for the Bureau of Drugs last week, combined it with the Bureau of Biologics and moved the head of the New Drug Evaluation Division out to run a new "orphan" products development office.
The new head of the combined drugs/biologics bureau is Dr. Harry M. Meyer Jr., who already was head of biologics. He succeeds Dr. J. Richard Crout, who had announced his resignation more than 1 1/2 years ago but said he would stay until his replacement was found.
The Washington Drug Letter says the length of time that took is "a testimony to the difficulty of filling the 'lightning-rod' post, a lonely, politically thankless job that is financially unattractive to many qualified applicants from outside the federal government."
What the Meyer move means for the drug industry isn't clear, although representatives of drug firms reportedly are pleased with his collegial manner at the biologics bureau. Clearly, though, many firms are delighted that Marion Finkel has been transferred from the job in charge of evaluating new drugs, because they viewed her as a foot dragger. Her replacement, at least temporarily, is Robert Temple, head of the cardio-renal drugs division.
Finkel's new job is dealing with the development of the so-called "orphan drugs," the ones for which there is little commercial value or are used in rare diseases.