Biden administration officials involved in the lengthy search for a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner have discussed University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel as a candidate to lead the agency, according to four people with knowledge of the deliberations.
A prominent figure in Democratic health policy circles, Emanuel helped craft the Affordable Care Act as an adviser to the Obama administration. The 63-year-old has since become a strong ally of President Joe Biden, advising his campaign and later serving on the transition’s Covid-19 advisory board.
Emanuel is one of several people under consideration, and the White House has yet to formally approach him about the job, the people with knowledge of the deliberations said, cautioning that the process is still in its early stages.
The administration has struggled for months to find a nominee to lead the agency despite its central role in fighting the ongoing pandemic. The FDA is poised to issue the first full approvals for Covid-19 vaccines, and is also planning for the rollout of booster shots and playing a key role in developing therapeutics.
It’s also facing intense scrutiny after suffering a series of reputational hits over the past year, most recently over its decision to approve a controversial Alzheimer’s drug despite little evidence of its effectiveness.