A Conversation with Dr. David Kessler, Former FDA Commissioner

Last week, my employer – Fleishman-Hillard, held a public affairs briefing in Washington, D.C. that included several of the members of the International Advisory Board (IAB) for the firm.  The event was co-hosted by the Capitol Hill newspaper  Roll Call and was moderated by Morton M. Kondracke, political commentator and executive editor.  The IAB is made up of people from various industries and past administrations and some of them were assembled to discuss the challenges and priorities that exist for the next elected Administration on several fronts – from healthcare to foreign affairs to finance to trade.

I sat down with several of the IAB participants that day to record their thoughts, and one of them was Dr. David Kessler, former FDA Commissioner from 1990 until 1997, appointed first by President George H.W. Bush and re-appointed by President Bill Clinton. 

It seemed to me that Dr. Kessler led the FDA during much happier times, when the agency was indeed the gold standard.  I asked him to compare the level of scrutiny and Congressional oversight of the FDA today to the time when he was Commissioner.  We also, naturally, discussed the challenges that the FDA faces now, the questions of credibility and the role of leadership, the evolving role of the FDA in a global economy and the prospect of FDA reforms.


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