Report: Sharfstein to head Health and Mental Hygiene
The number two official at the Food and Drug Administration will join the O'Malley administration.
Josh Sharfstein, the agency's Principal Deputy Commissioner would lead the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, according to a source familiar with the transition. That bureaucracy is now headed by Secretary John M. Colmers. The news was first reported by CQ's John Reichard.
A spokesman for Colmers referred calls to the governor's office, as did Sharfstein. O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec said O'Malley is planning a press conference concerning DHMH in Annapolis Wednesday morning.
The state's health secretary oversees a $9 billion budget which includes the sprawling Medicaid program. The new secretary will have a significant role in implementing the Obama health care overhaul, an issue that O'Malley is prioritizing.
The change would bring Sharfstein much closer to home: The 41-year-old is a resident of Baltimore's Mount Washington neighborhood. Plus he's familiar with Maryland politics -- before President Barack Obama tapped him for the FDA, Sharfstein was Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon's health commissioner.
Most recently Sharfstein was the FDA's front man in its efforts to ban alcohol infused energy drinks like Four Loko. His name is frequently mentioned in the national press, where he's been closely associated with with the federal agency's new tougher stance on enforcement including recalls of pediatric medications and pistachios.