Congratulations to FDA’s Dr. Richard Pazdur, recipient of the AACR’s prestigious Distinguished Public Service Award

By: Stephen Ostroff, M.D.

In the past five years, FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) has approved more than 40 novel cancer treatments, offering hope to many patients who previously had few or no treatment options. Among these products are new and cutting-edge targeted therapies—sometimes called “precision medicines”—tailored to treat patients based on their individual characteristics.

Acting FDA Commissioner, Stephen Ostroff, M.D.

Acting FDA Commissioner, Stephen Ostroff, M.D.

This achievement is a tribute to the dedicated CDER scientists and clinicians who support innovative development of cancer drugs, and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of new products for FDA approval. They are led by the dynamic and creative thinker, Dr. Richard Pazdur, a 16-year FDA veteran whose name has become synonymous with excellence in cancer drug research, development, evaluation and approval.

It is with great pride and admiration that I share with you today that the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has awarded its 2015 Distinguished Public Service Award to Dr. Pazdur. AACR selected Dr. Pazdur for this award based on his “extraordinary, steadfast leadership in scientific and regulatory affairs” and his “unwavering commitment to ensuring the development of safe and effective treatments for cancer patients.” The Association also noted that Dr. Pazdur’s “important work has been and continues to be nothing short of spectacular, and it is saving lives every day from this most feared disease that affects so many.”

Dr. Richard Pazdur (left) receives the 2015 Distinguished Public Service Award from AACR President Dr. Arteaga

Dr. Richard Pazdur (left) receives the 2015 Distinguished Public Service Award from AACR President Dr. Arteaga. Photo by © AACR/Todd Buchanan.

As director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products (OHOP) at FDA, Dr. Pazdur leads a staff of more than 150 oncologists, toxicologists, and other specialists dedicated to approving safe and effective drugs for cancer and blood-related conditions. Dr. Pazdur and his staff are committed to facilitating rapid development, review, and action on promising new treatments to combat these diseases and improve patient outcomes. Dr. Pazdur and the OHOP staff are also committed to outreach with the oncology community. In 2005, Dr. Pazdur established the Oncology Program, which coordinates oncology activities within FDA as well as with external stakeholders providing OHOP with a unique infrastructure within CDER to interact with professional societies and patient advocacy groups.

We are grateful for Dr. Pazdur’s sustained contributions and look forward to many more years of his leadership, and his adept and proficient manner in helping patients in need.

Stephen Ostroff, M.D., is Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Friends of Cancer Research Honors Our Dr. Richard Pazdur

By: Margaret Hamburg, M.D.

One of the privileges of being the head of the Food and Drug Administration is being able to report on the accomplishments of the dedicated and highly skilled employees who are advancing the public health mission of our agency. Last night, I had the pleasure of participating in an event honoring one of our scientists for work that makes us particularly proud: his outstanding contribution to the fight against cancer.

Margaret Hamburg, M.D. and Richard Pazdur, M.D.Dr. Richard Pazdur, the director of our Office of Hematology and Oncology Products, joined Senator John McCain and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, as a recipient of the Cancer Leadership Award from the Friends of Cancer Research, an important organization that helps advance medical progress.

Senator McCain and Ms. Tandem have been tireless advocates for public investment in cancer research, getting cancer drugs to market more quickly, and developing prevention strategies that are known to reduce the risk of cancer. Dr. Pazdur, who was honored for his leadership in cancer research, makes sure that the drugs used to treat cancer patients are not only available for patients who need them as fast as science will allow, but above all, that they are safe and effective.

Achieving these three goals requires highly sophisticated and frequently very difficult decisions. Thanks to Dr. Pazdur, who arrived at FDA more than a decade ago as a highly regarded physician and researcher, our agency is up to the task. He has helped make FDA a more transparent, innovative and compassionate organization grounded in solid science.

At FDA, we appreciate both his professional and personal qualities. As an FDA official and scientist, Dr. Pazdur explores hard data with industry, academia, and patient advocates in search of innovative approaches to expediting the approval of new drugs. When talking to cancer patients and their advocates, Rick Pazdur, the physician, responds with deeply-felt empathy. But even this great compassion does not weaken his resolve to perform his foremost duty, which is to ensure that the benefits of cancer drugs are not outweighed by their risks.

Dr. Pazdur’s leadership is a hallmark of FDA’s pursuit of science in the service of public health. I am proud to congratulate him on his richly deserved award on behalf of our entire agency.

Margaret Hamburg, M.D., is Commissioner of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration