FDA's No. 2 Amy Abernethy to leave the agency in April
The FDA’s principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs and acting chief information officer, Amy Abernethy, will leave the agency in mid-to-late April, according to a surprise memo on Tuesday from Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner.
Abernethy’s sudden departure comes a little more than two years since she joined the FDA, after making the jump to public service from her post as chief medical officer, chief scientific officer, and senior vice president for oncology at Roche’s Flatiron Health.
“I’m very sorry to see the FDA lose a talented and inspiring senior leader like Amy, but I take heart in Amy’s enduring accomplishments at the agency,” Woodcock wrote in a memo to FDA staff.
Abernethy’s work at the agency involved a major restructuring of how information technology is used there, and she helped to establish standards for the use of real-world data and evidence.
“When COVID-19 struck, Amy rapidly assembled flexible teams and projects to understand how novel data and rigorous analysis techniques could be deployed in support of the FDA’s response to the pandemic. Amy’s insight that a diverse group of public health and data experts from multiple sectors could come together to work on pandemic-related analysis projects in a transparent, collaborative setting led to the creation of the COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator, which has emerged as a unique and promising model for advancing the science of public health,” Woodcock wrote.
Abernethy’s departure comes at a critical time for the agency as President Biden has yet to nominate a permanent FDA commissioner, and the agency is grappling with an increased workload from the pandemic, as well as the re-negotiation of user fee deals ahead of next year and an expanding backlog of inspection work.
A former senior FDA official told Endpoints News she thinks Abernethy was promised a lot when she came on board, and after two years of not receiving consideration as the next FDA commissioner, she decided to leave.
You can read Woodcock’s full memo here.