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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Public Service Award for ASCO 2013

Remarks of Dr. Pazdur
June 2, 2013

 

Thank you very much for this honor. I would like to accept this public service award not only for the members of our office who work on oncology products not only for federal employees of the Food and Drug Administration but for all Federal employees. As many of you know, this has been a difficult time to be employed in government. There have been budgetary constraints due to sequestration, travel restrictions, hiring restrictions, and a less than favorable perception of the Federal workforce by many in the Public.

When I began my career in the Federal government in 1999, as well as today, I would like to state that I am proud to be in public service. I am proud to work with committed colleagues at the FDA who work to promote and guarantee public health and access to innovative medicines to treat cancer.

My colleagues are there because they want to be at the FDA and are guided by their ethical conscience to do the “right thing” irrespective of the popularity or lack of popularity of their decisions. Many can work in the private sector at far greater financial remuneration and far less restrictions than in government.

I am also proud of my staff for having a hand in the recent advances in drug development. In 2012, approximately 40 percent of new drug approvals were in oncology. Many approvals provided drugs in areas where there were few therapeutic options. Patients with CML, renal cell carcinoma, and multiple myeloma now have new treatments that may either prolong or improve their lives.

Several of our recent approvals have had companion diagnostic tests approved concurrently with the drugs to identify patients most likely to receive benefits. Many of our regulatory actions occurred months ahead of goal dates. This amount of work without sacrificing quality could not have been performed without the cooperation of a dedicated team involving our oncology review staff, outside consultants, patient advocates, sponsors, and other FDA centers.

Unfortunately, due to travel restraints, only a handful of our staff are able to attend this year’s annual ASCO meeting. For those who remain behind working in our offices in Maryland, I want to thank each one of you. You allow me to say the following—“Every day I walk in my office with a smile on my face, knowing that all voices have been heard, that our decisions are based on the best available scientific information, and our actions free of both financial and academic conflicts of interest are based on the underlying principle to ensure safe and effective cancer medicines for Americans.

Thank you again for this privilege.