Arthur Hayes Jr. is leaving the rigors of being...


WASHINGTON -- Arthur Hayes Jr. is leaving the rigors of being the accomplished and, at times, embattled chief of the Food and Drug Administration for a 'challenging opportunity' to return to academic life.

Hayes submitted his resignation Thursday, effective Sept. 2, as FDA commissioner to become dean and provost of New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y., the nation's third largest private medical school.


'Art Hayes will be a tough act for someone to follow,' said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, whose Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee oversees the agency. 'He has been a distinguished public servant.'

Hayes, who earlier served on the faculty of two other medical schools, wrote in a letter to Margaret Heckler, secretary of Health and Human Services: 'It is with sincere regret that I ask you to accept my resignation.'

He explained, 'A challenging opportunity to return to the field of academic medicine as provost and dean of New York Medical College has been offered to me and I have accepted.'


In accepting Hayes' resignation 'with reluctance,' Mrs. Heckler wrote him Friday that his leadership 'honored and advanced the mandate entrusted to you.'

'You leave a a pair of very 'big shoes' which we will be hard pressed to fill,' she wrote.

It will be up to Mrs. Heckler, as HHS secretary, to appoint Hayes' successor. A possible contender is Dr. Mark Novitch, the agency's deputy director and second highest ranking member. He has been with the FDA since 1971.

Appointed FDA commmissioner in April 1981 by HHS Secretary Richard Schweiker, Hayes, 50, instituted a major reorganization of the agency that regulates foods, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices.

Major highlights of his term include:

-The Tylenol poisonings, which resulted in the FDA enacting new tamper-resistant drug packaging regulations.

-An FDA campaign to reduce salt in Americans' diets that included a voluntary effort by manufacturers to cut down and label the amount of sodium in products.

-The 'orphan drug' program that provides financial incentives for firms to develop drugs for rare illnesses.

Still, Hayes, who receives a salary of $79,662 as FDA commissioner, has been hit with complaints from Capitol Hill and consumer groups.

Earlier this year, one congressional panel severely criticized his agency's monitoring of medical devices while another questioned its approval of a contraceptive sponge.


Consumer groups have complained that Hayes' sodium program has been a flop and what really is needed are mandatory regulations requiring the industry to reduce and label salt content.

Last spring, Hayes found himself in an embarrassing controversy when he accepted from private groups small speaking and travel fees that the Justice Department concluded were questionable.

While the department decided not to prosecute, HHS investigators turned over a report in April to Mrs. Heckler. There has been no word on whether she has decided to take disciplinary action against him.

An FDA official, speculating on Hayes' reasons for stepping down, said: 'After two years, he probably got tired of the harassment from Capitol Hill, from the job.

'He got a chance to become a dean of a college,' the official said.

Hayes, a Rhodes Scholar, came to the FDA from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, where he had headed the clinical pharmacology division since 1972.

Previously, he worked at New York City Hospital and taught at Cornell University Medical College, where he also served as associate dean for academic programs.

He received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College in 1964 and served as an Army captain from 1965 to 1967.


Hayes, married with three children, lives in Rockville, Md. He is a native of Highland Park, Mich.

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