December 14, 2018

Women’s History Month: FDA Spotlights Public Health Pioneer Marion Finkel

marion_finkelDuring Women’s History Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spotlighting the careers of female public health pioneers such as Marion Finkel. In 1974, Finkel became the first female to lead New Drug Evaluation for FDA. Eight years later, she became the agency’s first director of Orphan Drug Development.

The FDA’s orphan drug program provides incentives for sponsors to develop drugs to treat rare diseases. When Finkel left the FDA in 1985, 54 drugs had been given orphan status and 31 more were on their way. To date, more than 400 such drugs have been brought to market through the orphan drug program.

Finkel left the FDA for the private sector joining Berlex Pharmaceuticals Inc.  as executive director of R&D. In addition to overseeing clinical research, Finkel’s duties at Berlex included overseeing the development of one of the company’s orphan drugs.

Finkel was born in New York City and earned her M. D. from Chicago Medical School in 1952. Her internal medicine residency included a two-year stint at Bellevue Hospital in New York. Before she was hired by the FDA as a medical officer in 1962 she had a private practice and worked in the pharmaceutical industry. During her 22-year career at the FDA she was awarded the FDA Award of Merit and the Presidential Meritorious Executive Award, among other distinctions.

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