The FDA has named Norman “Ned” Sharpless, director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, as acting commissioner.
He is set to temporarily replace outgoing FDA head Scott Gottlieb, who said he plans to resign in early April. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar confirmed the appointment during a hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee on Tuesday, saying that the Trump administration is searching for a permanent replacement for Gottlieb.
Sharpless has led the National Cancer Institute since October 2017. He began his career as a physician before moving into academia. Prior to joining the National Cancer Institute, he was director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Gottlieb has launched initiatives to combat teen vaping, regulate e-cigarette makers, and increase drug competition by speeding up generic and biosimilar approvals during his tenure running FDA.
Azar said the federal agency will continue those policy goals. “There will be no let-up in the agency’s focus, from ongoing efforts on drug approvals and combating the opioid crisis to modernizing food safety and addressing the rapid rise in youth use of e-cigarettes,” Azar said in a statement.
Gottlieb has tweeted about the appointment, calling Sharpless “a friend to FDA.”
Douglas Lowy, deputy director of the National Cancer Institute, will take over as acting director of the organization.