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Wall Street Journal- Torti’s Farewell Memo to FDA Staff: ‘Take the FDA Back’

Wall Street Journal- Torti’s Farewell Memo to FDA Staff: ‘Take the FDA Back’

By Sarah Rubenstein Not long after sending out a memo warning FDA staff about leaking confidential information — and then seeing the memo get leaked —

Frank Torti sent out a farewell message to the staff on Friday. That, too, was leaked, and it offered some interesting words on the state of the agency:

The FDA is now defined by others. You must speak up and take the FDA back. It is yours, not theirs. You do more good, day in and day out, than most others, inside or outside government. FDA has a mission, of course. But what you give the FDA is character and class.

Asked about the memo, Torti, who returned to Wake Forest University after serving as the FDA’s acting commissioner and chief scientist, tells the WSJ that in conversations with agency staffers, he was struck by how proud they are of the work they do.

“But you know,” he added, “what’s written about the FDA is always from the outside, and I wish there was a way we could communicate what we’ve done, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. Sometimes people just don’t understand how hard it is, how hard we work, and what a great place the FDA is.”

As for who’s defining FDA and from whom the agency needs to be taken back, Torti said there are a lot “constituencies who have an opinion about the FDA,” and he didn’t have any specific group in mind. “Virtually everybody outside the FDA has an opinion and is very vocal about it.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley, one vocal critic of the FDA, recently sent Torti a letter expressing concern about Torti’s anti-leak memorandum from last month, which focused on disclosure of commercial information.

Asked about his farewell memo, Torti said it “was not a secret, I wanted everybody to read it, and I’m very proud of what I said.”