The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has moved to Thursday the confirmation hearing for Margaret Hamburg, President Obama's pick for FDA commissioner, citing the need to address the H1N1 influenza outbreak, the Wall Street Journal reports. Hamburg, an expert on bioterrorism and pandemics, was scheduled to appear before the committee on May 12.

A spokesperson for HELP Committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, "It is a high priority for Chairman Kennedy to get Dr. Hamburg confirmed as quickly as possible," adding that her expertise "will be an invaluable resource" in dealing with the virus.

FDA Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein has been serving as acting commissioner. According to the Journal, Sharfstein has been "quick to respond" to the outbreak but also has been handling a number of unrelated problems related to drugs, medical devices and approval policies (Mundy, Wall Street Journal, 5/4).

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