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. He has been one of the strongest advocates on regulation of tobacco and e-cigarette industries in the recent past. His reason for quitting is personal wherein he cites his long commute home to his wife and three children – 9 year old twin daughters and a 5 year older daughter, living in Westport, Connecticut.
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There have been speculations about his aggressive views in regulating e-cigarettes for teenage use and the rising epidemic of teen vaping. The 46 year old cancer survivor, Dr. Gottleib, was pushing for lowering nicotine levels in e-cigarettes and removal of flavours that could attract middle schoolers and teenagers to start vaping. Recently he has been under pressure from some Republicans in Congress and some previous associates who stopped Gottleib from implementing some of the FDA regulations to prevent teen vaping.
Republican Senator Richard Burr attacked the commissioner on the Senate floor with regards to the ban on menthol cigarettes. Gottleib however reiterates that his resignation has little to do with these oppositions. “There’s no intrigue here,” he said in a statement. Gottlieb said in an interview, “It was a very hard decision. This is the best job I will ever have. I’m leaving because I need to spend time with my family. I get home late Friday, work on weekends and come back to Washington on Sunday. I did the job 100 percent.”
According to Dr. Gottleib, there were plans in place to move forth the tobacco regulations before he finally leaves office. Cliff Douglas, vice president of tobacco control at the American Cancer Society in a statement said, “It’s critical that his successor champions protecting kids and the rest of the nation against the tobacco epidemic. Gottlieb has taken historic steps to take on this epidemic in a new way, including such proposals as reducing nicotine in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels and now pursuing a potential ban on menthol in cigarettes, so it is critical that whoever succeeds him picks up that mantel and treats it with equal priority that he has given it.”
The FDA under Dr. Gottleib’s administration has approved a large number of new drugs, medical devices and generic medicines. He spoke for lower drug prices, price regulation and also worked to prevent and reverse the opioid crisis.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement, “All of us at HHS are proud of the remarkable work Commissioner Gottlieb has done at the FDA. He has been an exemplary public health leader, aggressive advocate for American patients, and passionate promoter of innovation. …The public health of our country is better off for the work Scott and the entire FDA team have done over the last two years.”