Joshua M. Sharfstein (born 1969) is a physician and the current Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He was principal deputy commissioner of the U.S Food and Drug Administration until he stepped down from his post on January 5, 2011. He is the former health commissioner of Baltimore, Maryland.
Life and career
A native of Maryland, Sharfstein graduated from Harvard College in 1991. In the fall of 1992, he entered Harvard Medical School, from where he graduated in 1996. He did his residency in pediatrics through a joint program at Boston Children's Hospital and Boston Medical Center, completing a special pediatrics fellowship with Boston University.
Sharfstein then left Boston for Washington, D. C., where he joined the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee and served as health policy advisor to Congressman Henry A. Waxman. Among the issues he worked on were HIV/AIDS, oversight of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tobacco, and public health.
After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Sharfstein served as leader of the Obama transition team on the FDA. Since that time, media reports have indicated he is a finalist to become FDA commissioner in the new administration. In 2009, He was appointed by President Obama as Principal Deputy Commissioner of the FDA.
Sharfstein, whose early work in politics included work for Public Citizen's Health Watch, has been a frequent critic of drug industry marketing practices—going all the way back to his days in medical training. During his time as public health commissioner of Baltimore, he led the effort to restrict the marketing of pediatric cold remedies.
Sharfstein has also written articles criticizing the American Medical Association for its pattern of giving campaign contributions to political candidates that take stands the majority of physicians oppose. One of those articles focused on AMA donations to candidates and elected officials who have fought the regulation of tobacco—a position the medical community generally favors and that Sharfstein has advocated over the years.
Although Sharfstein's candidacy for a top FDA post raised concerns among some special interest groups—the Wall Street Journal reported on an "Anybody But Sharfstein" memo placed in circulation, apparently at the behest of drug companies—he has also sided with the drug industry in the controversy over vaccine safety, warning that vaccines are an essential part of public health.
After less than two years on the job, FDA deputy commissioner Josh Sharfstein left the agency to become the Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene in Maryland.
- Torrey, E. Fuller; Stieber, Joan; Ezekiel, Jonathan; Wolfe, Sidney M; Sharfstein, Joshua; Noble, John H; Flynn, Laurie M (1992), Criminalizing the Seriously Mentally Ill: The Abuse of Jails as Mental Hospitals, A joint report of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and Public Citizen's Health Research Group, ISBN 0-7881-4279-8, retrieved 12 November 2010
- Mundy, Alicia (5 January 2011). "FDA Deputy Commissioner Sharfstein to Resign". The Wall Street Journal.
- Torrey, E. Fuller; Stieber, Joan; Ezekiel, Jonathan; Wolfe, Sidney M; Sharfstein, Joshua; Noble, John H; Flynn, Laurie M (1992), "The Authors", Criminalizing the Seriously Mentally Ill: The Abuse of Jails as Mental Hospitals, A joint report of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and Public Citizen's Health Research Group, p. iii, ISBN 0-7881-4279-8, retrieved 12 November 2010
- Biography of Dr. Joshua Sharfstein--City of Baltimore
- "Healthy Competition for Top FDA Post" Washington Post February 18, 2009
- "Who is Joshua Sharfstein?" Wall Street Journal Health Blog
- "A.M.A. Found to Donate More to Foes of Its Views" New York Times, January 6, 1994
- "Advocates for new FDA chief overlook independence from industry Wall Street Journal Health Blog
- "Sharfstein is favorite son for FDA post," Baltimore Sun