US Food and Drug Administration chief Scott Gottlieb resigns

Faith Castro
March 9, 2019

Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that he would resign from office at the end of this month.

Citing an unnamed FDA official, the newspaper reported that Gottlieb, 46, had been commuting weekly between his home in Westport, Connecticut, and Washington and wanted to spend more time with his family.

Gottlieb had been commuting each week to his job from his home in CT - where he keeps chickens in his backyard (a hobby he once joked about on Twitter) - and wanted to spend more time with his family, officials told The Washington Post. Not surprisingly, his tenure as commissioner was marked by regulatory decision making regarding medications and medical devices that tilted further in favour of industry's financial interests rather than the interests of public health.

FDA Commissioner-designate Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing, April 5, 2017 in Washington. David Kessler, the FDA commissioner in the early 1990s, had also argued for a menthol ban.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauded his work to regulate tobacco and e-cigarettes, but noted that his proposals have yet to be enacted.

During his two years with the FDA, Dr Gottlieb started many discussions affecting dietary supplements, with a wide ranging statement about revamping the regulations drawing support from stakeholders.

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Gottlieb's efforts to oversee the pharmaceutical industry may be more high profile, but device safety and effectiveness has emerged in recent months as a contentious topic in its own right. Under Gottlieb, the FDA has emphasized vaping as a potential tool to wean adult smokers off traditional cigarettes. The ban is the biggest tobacco measure taken by the FDA in almost a decade.

But Burr still praised Gottlieb upon news of his resignation, calling him "potentially one of the best commissioners we've ever had".

"I'll depart knowing the FDA is strong, its people outstanding, and its mission well recognized and deeply respected across the government, and indeed, across the world", Gottlieb stated.

During his tenure as commissioner, Gottlieb approved a record number of treatments and drugs and advanced policies to confront opioid addiction and prevent youth e-cigarette use.

"I know that the opportunity to serve in this role was a privilege, and an endeavor that I'll never be able to replicate in my professional life - the impact of our public health work, the camaraderie, and our ability to improve the lives of Americans".

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