Medicare and Medicaid head Mark McClellan will resign from his post in October, just over two and half years after taking on the role in March 2004.

According to media reports, 44-year-old McClellan felt that the time was right to go, after having overseen the implementation of a new drug benefits program in the US, marking the biggest change to Medicare and Medicaid services since their inception.

In a statement, US President George W Bush said McClellan had “played an instrumental role in transforming the Nation's health care system, and his efforts will continue to make a difference for generations…He has also worked to ensure that price and quality information are available to consumers, and led reforms that brought principles of private sector competition to government programs, thereby moving the country toward a system in which Americans will receive better care at lower overall prices.”

McClellan, a physician and an economist, previously served as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and was one of Pres Bush's economic advisers. After leaving his post, he reportedly plans to work for a think-tank organisation in the US, writing about the continued improvement of health care in the country, as well as spend more time with his seven-year-old twin daughters. His replacement has not yet been announced.