Former director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Ned Sharpless has just taken the position of FDA commissioner. The nomination was made in the wake of Scott Gottlieb’s unexpected resignation, declared only months ago. Rumours were quick to spread. There was allegedly talk of relaxing the pressure being put on vaping manufacturers. But Ned Sharpless was quick to set the tone. This change of management at the FDA will in no way change the American agency’s directives on the subject of vaping.
Alex Azar, Minister for Health, had only positive things to say about the nomination of Ned Sharpless at the head of the FDA. A trained doctor, Sharpless committed to medical research early in his career. In the early 2000s, as the director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer organisation, he focused on understanding malignant tumours. His name is on the by-line of over 170 academic papers.
In October 2017, he was called upon to take the directorship of the NCI. His work involved close collaboration with the FDA, and as a result he knows how the organisation works. Friendly sports events were organised involving the two government bodies, which further helped to create an atmosphere of trust.
A controversial departure
During his mandate, Scott Gottlieb had at first worked to soften legislation on vaping products before turning tack last year. The scandal caused by underage e-cig consumption was the main reason for this strategic about-face.
According to certain observers, Scott Gottlieb decided to step down from his position at the FDA due to serious disagreements with the Trump administration. Some claimed that the US administration is working to soften regulations on the e-cig manufacturing industry.
Mick Mulvaney was quick to deny the allegation. Donald Trump’s top aid in the cabinet stated that Scott Gottlieb had resigned in amicable conditions, and that Sharpless’s nomination to the head of the FDA sent a clear message: the Trump administration plans to maintain fiscal and regulatory pressure on e-cig manufacturers and distributors.