Trump taps Cancer Institute head as acting FDA chief

Trump taps Cancer Institute head as acting FDA chief
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The Trump administration on Tuesday said National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Ned Sharpless will serve as acting chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when current Commissioner Scott Gottlieb steps down.

Gottlieb abruptly announced his plans to step down last week, raising questions about whether the agency will pursue some of the ambitious proposals he introduced, including many aimed at curbing use of e-cigarettes among the nation's youth.

Gottlieb is expected to step down next month.

“Dr. Sharpless’ deep scientific background and expertise will make him a strong leader for FDA,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement on the appointment. “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 the process of searching for a permanent FDA commissioner is underway. He added that Douglas Lowy, currently deputy director of the NCI, will serve as the NCI's acting director.

“Dr. Sharpless is a valued colleague to FDA and is deeply committed to public health. He shares our mission and will be embraced warmly by the agency’s professional staff. Under his skilled leadership, I’m confident the transition will be seamless and the FDA will continue to secure its consumer protection role and advance policies to promote innovation and safety for families,” Gottlieb said in a statement.

Updated at 12:47 p.m.