By MARGARET HAMBURG, M.D.
One of the privileges of being the head of the Food and Drug Administration is being able to report on the accomplishments of the dedicated and highly skilled employees
who are advancing the public health mission of our agency. Last night, I had the pleasure of participating in an event honoring one of our scientists for work that makes us particularly proud: his outstanding contribution to the fight against cancer.Dr. Richard Pazdur, the director of our Office of Hematology and Oncology Products, joined Senator John McCain and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, as a recipient of the Cancer Leadership Award from the Friends of Cancer Research, an important organization that helps advance medical progress.
Senator McCain and Ms. Tandem have been tireless advocates for public investment in cancer research, getting cancer drugs to market more quickly, and developing prevention strategies that are known to reduce the risk of cancer. Dr. Pazdur, who was honored for his leadership in cancer research, makes sure that the drugs used to treat cancer patients are not only available for patients who need them as fast as science will allow, but above all, that they are safe and effective.
Achieving these three goals requires highly sophisticated and frequently very difficult decisions. Thanks to Dr. Pazdur, who arrived at FDA more than a decade ago as a highly regarded physician and researcher, our agency is up to the task. He has helped make FDA a more transparent, innovative and compassionate organization grounded in solid science.
At FDA, we appreciate both his professional and personal qualities. As an FDA official and scientist, Dr. Pazdur explores hard data with industry, academia, and patient advocates in search of innovative approaches to expediting the approval of new drugs. When talking to cancer patients and their advocates, Rick Pazdur, the physician, responds with deeply-felt empathy. But even this great compassion does not weaken his resolve to perform his foremost duty, which is to ensure that the benefits of cancer drugs are not outweighed by their risks.
Dr. Pazdur’s leadership is a hallmark of FDA’s pursuit of science in the service of public health. I am proud to congratulate him on his richly deserved award on behalf of our entire agency.