P

resident Barack Obama’s pick for Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Daschle, has withdrawn his nomination for the post over revelations regarding errors in his tax returns.

As PharmaTimes World News reported yesterday, apologised for “errors” which have required him to pay around $140,000 in back taxes and interest. Now, despite support from leading figures in the Democratic Party, including Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, Mr Daschle, the former Senate majority leader, has fallen on his sword.

In a statement, he said it was an honour to be chosen to lead the reform of the US health care system. However, he added that “if 30 years of exposure to the challenges inherent in our system has taught me anything, it has taught me that this work will require a leader who can operate with the full faith of Congress and the American people, and without distraction".

"Right now, I am not that leader, and will not be a distraction”, Mr Daschle added. “The focus of Congress should be on the urgent business of moving the president's economic agenda forward, including affordable health care for every American."

President Obama said he accepted Mr Daschle's decision "with sadness and regret”. He went on to say that “Tom made a mistake, which he has openly acknowledged. He has not excused it, nor do I. But that mistake, and this decision, cannot diminish the many contributions Tom has made to this country”. He added that “now we must move forward, with our plan to lift this economy and put people back to work”.