FDA focusing on communications in five-point overhaul strategy

ROCKVILLE, MD: The FDA is channeling its communications efforts into commissioner Mark McClellan's new five-point strategy for the agency. The efforts are being led by new associate commissioner for external relations Peter Pitts.

ROCKVILLE, MD: The FDA is channeling its communications efforts into commissioner Mark McClellan's new five-point strategy for the agency. The efforts are being led by new associate commissioner for external relations Peter Pitts.

After little more than a month on the job, Pitts has already seen many of his plans executed. He replaced former external chief Linda Skladany in April, the same month that McClellan announced the new strategy. All communications efforts, according to Pitts, are being designed to promote McClellan's five identified goals: a strong FDA, risk management, patient safety, risk communication, and counter-terrorism.

Pitts, who reports directly to the commissioner and oversees the FDA's office of public affairs, office of the ombudsman, office of special health issues, and advisory committees, called for a more centralized approach to communications.

"Traditionally, communications at the FDA has been more reactive than proactive because there is such a great deal of incoming interest. Now we're going out and telling our story the way we want it told," Pitts explained. In order to achieve this, he added, it is imperative that policy, communications, and marketing operate on the same level.

Pitts cited Drugs@FDA, a consumer-focused interface on the FDA website expected by October, as "an important part" of his department's proactive outreach. He also noted the FDA's centennial year, 2006, as a point of concentration.

Prior to joining the FDA, Pitts was a managing partner at Wired World, an Indianapolis-based PR firm.

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