President Trump’s nominee for FDA commissioner, Dr Stephen Hahn, was confirmed by the Senate on Dec. 12, taking over from Dr. Brett Giroir, an interim commissioner who took over after the previous acting commissioner, Dr. Ned Sharpless, gave up the post and returned to his prior position as head of the National Cancer Institute. (it’s not known whether Dr. Giroir will return to his position as Assistant Secretary for Health at HHS.) All this followed the resignation of Scott Gottlieb, who had led FDA since the Trump inauguration, in March.
According to press reports, Hahn has no prior Washington experience; his prior position was chief medical executive at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and his medical experience is as a radiation oncologist.
FDA faces a growing number of critical issues: drug importation and the ongoing drug-pricing debate; use of cannabis-derived products in foods and healthcare products; the fast-moving pace of pharmaceutical innovation in new therapies. Nevertheless, much of the debate during his nomination hearings was over the regulation of vaping, with some in Washington looking for a ban on vaping products (at least for children) and President Trump wavering between its restriction.
Commenting on Hahn’s appointment, the STAT news organization quotes Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate committee overseeing FDA: “We should be grateful that he is willing to take this job at this period of time.”