The Senate has made the right decision last night in overwhelmingly confirming Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a vote of 80 to 11. For too long the FDA has needed a Senate-confirmed leader with the mandate that Senate confirmation provides.

With a strong leader at its helm, I am confident the agency can now move forward. Dr. von Eschenbach has a strong record. He is an accomplished scientist, a proven manager, and a man with vision. He is also a cancer survivor, and he has brought that perspective - and the compassion that goes with it – to his government service. Numerous programs within the FDA’s jurisdiction must be renewed during the next Congress, including both the drug and device user fee programs, two expiring pediatric programs, and improving our drug safety system all must be addressed. The FDA badly needs a leader with the backing and the mandate of the Senate in order to be our partner in those efforts, and I am confident that Dr. von Eschenbach is up to that task.

The delay in confirming a permanent Commissioner may have limited the FDA’s ability to help speed development of drugs and medical devices at a time when many advances in genetics, pharmacology and related fields are coming to fruition. Today’s vote will help put the FDA back on course and keep better pace with those rapid advances.