Von Eschenbach, who had previously serves as head of the National Cancer Institute and worked as chief academic officer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was named acting commissioner after the September 2005 resignation of Lester Crawford.
The New York Times reported that outgoing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., on Thursday overrode holds placed on the confirmation by two Republicans in calling for a confirmation vote. The appointment was approved by a vote of 80 to 11.
Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, was a major proponent of von Eschenbach's confirmation. He said the organization, which reports have said is hampered by internal disputes, poor management and operating under outdated rules, was in need of a permanent leader.
"The FDA has been without a confirmed commissioner for all but 18 months of the last 5 1/2 years," Enzi said. "Ever see a business that could run for 5 1/2 years without a boss except for 18 months?"