Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > FDA Officials are Frequent Visitors to White House, Data Show

FDA Officials are Frequent Visitors to White House, Data Show

Posted 28 April 2014 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC

Ever wonder how much influence the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) top regulatory officials have with the highest executive office in the land, the White House?

If you buy the theory that access is tantamount to influence, the agency seems to have a good amount of it. Focus recently combed through four years of the White House's public visitor logs, querying the data to find instances in which some of FDA's top officials met with the president's staff, either at the White House or in the accompanying Executive Office Building.

Some officials were frequent visitors, and none more so than FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who met with officials, including President Barack Obama, 61 times. The most frequent person Hamburg met with was former White House official Cass Sunstein, then head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

NameTitleVisit Total
Margaret HamburgCommissioner, FDA61
Janet WoodockDirector, CDER5
Jeffrey ShurenDirector, CDRH2
Karen MidthunDirector, CBER1
Bernadette DunhamDirector, CVM1
Leslie KuxAssociate Commissioner, Policy28
Peter LurieAssociate Commissioner, Policy and Planning6
Elizabeth DickinsonChief Counsel, FDA2
Steven ImmergutAssociate Commissioner, External Affairs3
Howard SklambergDeputy Commissioner, Global Regulatory Operations & Policy2
Sally Howard, Deputy Commissioner, Policy, Planning, and Legislation43

But Hamburg isn't the only frequent visitor. FDA's Sally Howard, the agency's lead on policy and legislative issues, has logged 43 visits to the White House so far. Leslie Kux, FDA's associate commissioner for policy, has visited 28 times.

Curiously, the agency's center directors visit far less frequently despite their frequent appearances on Capitol Hill, such as to testify on ongoing policy and regulatory developments. For example, Janet Woodcock has visited the White House just five times during the current administration-fewer times than she's testified before Congress in the last six months. Directors Jeffrey Shuren, Karen Midthun and Bernadette Dunham are all even less frequent visitors, appearing just four times in all.

While there isn't much data to be found in the visitor logs, such as why FDA officials were meeting in the first place, it at least shows that the White House is paying attention to matters affecting FDA.

White House Visitor Logs


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