Joshua Sharfstein, MD,  the deputy commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the public engine behind the agency’s campaign against tainted supplements, is resigning, the Wall Street Journal reported January 4. Sharfstein, who joined the FDA in March 2009, is leaving to take a top public-health job for the state of Maryland.

During his relatively brief time at the agency, Sharfstein has pushed for stronger safety standards for pharmaceuticals and medical devices. He also stepped up the FDA’s efforts to remove adulterated dietary supplements from the market, declaring outright war against the potentially dangerous products on Dec. 15.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has also spoke out publicly against tainted supplements, but Sharfstein’s departure puts in question the agency’s aggressiveness on the issue in the near future. Sharfstein was a speaker at the 2010 Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) conference and has met privately with the dietary supplement associations to tackle the issue of adulterated products masquerading as supplements.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to announce on Wednesday Sharfstein’s appointment as the state’s secretary of health and mental hygiene. Prior to joining the FDA, Sharfstein was the public health director for the city of Baltimore.

Read the full Wall Street Journal article about Sharfstein's resignation.