The long wait for personnel announcements at the top of the Public Health Service and the Food and Drug Administration continues, but the game of musical chairs is expected to take place in early fall.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Frank E. Young is in line for a promotion, moving up to head the Public Health Service. Young has had White House approval for some time, but is awaiting final clearance from the Justice Department, says a Department of Health and Human Services source.
As head of the PHS, Young would be in charge not only of FDA, but also the National Institutes of Health, the Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control. The post has been open since last fall, and Young was mentioned for the job from the beginning. He has been at FDA since last July.
If Young moves up, the leading candidate for his job remains Raymond A. Gosselin, 63-year-old president of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences. The private and independent college is the second oldest school of pharmacy in the country.
Gosselin's name was sent to the White House from the department long ago, and some top HHS officials hope he will be appointed to the FDA post. Gosselin holds a master's degree from the college he now heads, as well as a master's of business administration. For 20 years Gosselin managed his own company, which specialized in monitoring prescription drug trends.
Meanwhile, at the White House's request, Carleton Turner, deputy assistant to the president for drug-abuse policy, is also said to be under consideration for the FDA post. Turner, 44, has been at the White House since l981 and is a key adviser to Nancy Reagan in her drive to combat drug abuse here and abroad. He once headed a marijuana research project in Mississippi and has a doctorate in chemistry.
Young, 53, has both a medical degree and a doctorate in microbiology. While the modern FDA has usually been headed by physicians -- 6 out of the last 8 have had medical degrees -- the Carter administration broke the trend in appointing biologist Donald Kennedy and pharmacist Jere Goyan, both of whom hold PhDs.
The appointments of Young and his successor has been held up in part by questions raised about FDA Deputy Commissioner John A. Norris, a close associate whom Young brought to the agency. The HHS Inspector General has been conducting an audit regarding several consulting contracts awarded to Norris before he came on board as Young's deputy in June. The Federal Bureau of Investigation background check on Young has been held up in part because of the audit. But an HHS official said yesterday that "no problem" had been turned up regarding Young or Norris' roles in the contracts. He predicted that the White House would be ready to send Young's nomination to Capitol Hill after Congress' summer recess.
According to the source, the audit indicated administrative procedural errors by FDA staff in awarding the contracts -- "an honest mistake" -- and changes in these procedures are expected to be recommended. The results of the audit have not yet been publicly released.
The FDA post is expected to be filled by November. While Norris may stay on for a transitional period -- particularly to help implement the agency's new "action plan" for the future, which he helped engineer -- he is eventually expected to join Young downtown.
PHS PATRIOTISM . . . Ever since U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop took charge of the Public Health Service, he has urged the 5,000-plus officers in the PHS Commissioned Corps of health professionals to wear their military-style uniforms regularly.
Now, FDA Commissioner Young has joined the campaign.
In a July memo, Young urged the agency's officers to join him in wearing their uniforms each week. "As you know, I am proud of my uniform and wear it whenever possible . . . . the wearing of the uniform conveys an important message to those around us concerning the men and women of the United States Public Health Service." Young sent the memo after attending the annual meeting of the Commissioned Officers Association in Atlanta. About 400 of the agency's 7,000 employes are in the corps.
The corps, started in 1798 to provide health care for seamen, was organized in the late 1800s along military lines. While the corps was always considered an elite government career group, with many of its members physicians, its ranks have fallen with budget cut and some functions have been cut back.
Young, who joined the corps when he became commissioner, said in an interview yesterday that he hoped to improve morale. "I do feel it is important. Public service is a very high calling."