The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, announced Tuesday March 5th that he is resigning the position, effective in one month.
Gottlieb won approval from many as an effective advocate for public health. Within the Trump administration, he stood out for his efforts to more tightly regulate several industries; he’s been particularly intent on curbing vaping and making generic drugs more accessible.
Gottlieb is a physician who was previously the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs. He became commissioner in May 2017. The reasons for his resignation are not yet clear, but it appears it was not requested by the White House.
In a statement Tuesday, Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that Gottlieb “has been an exemplary public health leader, aggressive advocate for American patients, and passionate promoter of innovation.”
During his time as commissioner, Gottlieb and the FDA were particularly focused on seeking to reduce morbidity associated with tobacco use, seeking to reduce teen e-cigarette use, fighting the opioid epidemic, improving food safety, and tracking foodborne illness outbreaks.
Under Dr. Gottlieb’s leadership, the F.D.A. approved a record number of generic medicines, new drugs, and medical devices. He led the agency into unusual territory, calling for lower drug prices and speaking out about the opioid crisis.
But his record on opioids was mixed, some policy experts said. Although the agency worked to take one powerful addictive painkiller, Opana ER, off the market, it approved Dsuvia, a new form of an extremely potent opioid, for acute pain — which public health advocates feared would be just as dangerous.