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  1. FDA Leadership: 1907 to Today

Alexander M. Schmidt

 Photo of Alexander M. Schmidt, M.D.

  Alexander M. Schmidt, M.D.

7/20/1973 - 11/30/1976*

Alexander McKay Schmidt, the tenth person to head the modern FDA, was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, in 1930. He received a Bachelor's degree from Northwestern and earned an M. D. from the University of Utah in 1955. After spending two years in the army, Schmidt returned to the University of Utah College of Medicine as a member of the faculty. From 1967 to 1968 he became an administrator of the Regional Medical Program of the National Institutes of Health, then he was appointed to a deanship and faculty post at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago.

HEW Secretary Caspar Weinberger appointed Schmidt Commissioner of Food and Drugs in July 1973. Under Schmidt, the agency pursued a wide range of initiatives, including the banning of red dye no. 2, increased attention to patient package inserts for prescription drugs, the early phase of the over-the-counter drug review, comprehensive medical device legislation, the institution of a policy board, and the formalization of administrative regulations. In addition, the agency was buffeted by frequent congressional hearings into a variety of operations and policies.

Schmidt left FDA in November 1976 and returned to Illinois, where became vice chancellor for health affairs. In 1987 he was named chair of the University Hospital Consortium in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, a consulting group for academic health care institutions. Schmidt died in 1991.

 * Sherwin Gardner, deputy commissioner from 1972 to 1979, acted as commissioner on three separate occasions, for a total of approximately 12 months, between the tenures of Charles Edwards, Alexander Schmidt, Donald Kennedy and Jere Goyan.

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