Reports of the demise of her employment status are greatly exaggerated, Janet Woodcock wrote in a memo to staff and the press on 10 October 2013 after a report in Reuterstriggered confusion over whether the center director planned to retire next year.
An Impactful Career
The Reuters story, written by long-time life science industry reporter Toni Clark, explored Woodcock's influence within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), FDA's primary center for regulating pharmaceutical-and some biological-products.
Woodcock has been director of the center for more than a decade, and the Reuters piece quotes numerous sources in saying that Woodcock's approach to balancing benefit and risk has been beneficial to the pharmaceutical industry-a benefit that could be diminished in her absence.
But Woodcock, 64, is nearing an age where she could retire, and the Reuters piece notes that there appears to be no heir apparent in CDER, owing to a variety of factors that include difficulty attracting top talent with FDA wages and the "formidable" approach of Woodcock herself.
To be fair, the Reuters piece doesn't state that Woodcock is planning on retiring. And especially within CDER, there is ample precedence for some of the agency's most fabled names-Robert Temple (42 years at FDA) and John Senior (18 years at FDA), for example-staying on with the agency long after they could have retired.
Not Going Anywhere
But with rumors running rampant that the piece implied she would retire, Woodcock yesterday issued a statement indicating that, no, she has no plans to retire in the short term.
"I want to assure you that I am not planning to retire as erroneously reported in the media today," she said. "In fact, quite the opposite is true. I am becoming more deeply involved in many of the Center's issues, including the proposed reorganizations of the Office of Pharmaceutical Quality (OPQ) and the Office of Generic Drugs (OGD)."
She said the impact of the report had such great effect as to cause her daughter to email her, asking if she was indeed retiring. It had also raised concerns among CDER staff, her email explained.
"I continue to be fully committed to the important work CDER does and to its staff who work so diligently to protect the health of the American public," she said.