In the wake of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s abrupt resignation, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar III announced that Dr. Ned Sharpless will serve as interim commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Since October 2017, Dr. Sharpless served as director of the National Cancer Institute and, before that, worked as a researcher and hematologist-oncologist at the University of North Carolina. He is also a co-founder of G1 Therapeutics, a biotech firm focused on cancer treatment therapies that went public in May of 2017.
Dr. Sharpless is a temporary appointment, with Secretary Azar saying that the search is on for a permanent candidate for the position, according to the NYT.
The change comes at a tumultuous time for the e-cigarette industry in particular, which has been a focal point for Commissioner Gottlieb. As vaping continues to grow in popularity among teens, Gottlieb has enforced new rules for the industry and promised to keep a close watch on youth use of these products and the companies that sell them.
Gottlieb praised the appointment:
Whether or not an acting commissioner will be able to push forward initiatives related to the tobacco industry, such as limiting the nicotine in combustible cigarettes and enforcing stricter regulation on e-cigs, is unclear. However, Altria shares fell on the news.