U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Scott Gottlieb, whose leadership has been dominated in recent months by a crusade against the vape and tobacco industries, told his staff on Tuesday that he will resign in April.
The surprise announcement casts a shadow over the bold initiatives Dr. Gottlieb spearheaded to combat the opioid addiction and youth vaping epidemics, both of which gripped the nation largely because of aggressive and sometimes illegal marketing and sales efforts by manufacturers.
Dr. Gottlieb indicated in a letter to staff that his decision to leave the FDA isn’t motivated by political factors but is strictly driven by family matters and the pressures of long-distance commuting.
“There’s perhaps nothing that could pull me away from this role other than the challenge of being apart from my family and for these past two years and missing my wife and three young children,” he said in a letter to FDA staff.
“I should have moved them down at the outset, but it’s too late to do that now,” Dr. Gottlieb said of his family at an appearance in downtown Washington.
Dr. Gottlieb’s record at the FDA and in private commercial enterprises and organizations in prior years has been staunchly conservative. When he became head of the FDA in May 2017, he embraced the vaping products as a means to help adults quit regular cigarettes and other tobacco products.
He changed his stance, however, when government and medical data showed that vaping isn’t effective in helping most adults to quit smoking. Instead, data shows that the vaping industry is creating a new generation of nicotine addicts, reversing decades of progress in driving smoking rates among U.S. adults and teens to record lows.
In addition to threatening the vape industry with a “game-over” scenario, Dr. Gottlieb has also taken on Big Tobacco by threatening to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes and reduce the nicotine levels in cigarettes to non-addictive levels.
It’s unclear whether his successor will bring the same verve to these regulatory efforts, but Dr. Gottlieb said he planned to advance the tobacco regulations before he leaves, according to The New York Times. He also said that the FDA’s guidance on restricting flavored vape products would be issued before his departure.
Other source: CNN