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Sharpless named acting FDA commissioner

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Norman “Ned” Sharpless

WASHINGTON — Dr. Norman “Ned” Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, will become acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration next month.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that Sharpless will take the reins of the FDA after the resignation of Scott Gottlieb.

The administration is seeking a permanent replacement for Gottlieb, Azar told a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing. Gottlieb announced his resignation last week, citing family reasons.

“It will be an honor to advance the FDA’s critical public health mission and build on its progress toward the priorities laid out by President Trump, Secretary Azar, and Commissioner Gottlieb alongside the leadership and staff of the agency,” Sharpless said in a statement.

Azar said, “There will be no letup 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.”

In an email to FDA staff, Gottlieb called Sharpless a “valued colleague” and “deeply committed to public health.”

“Dr. Sharpless shares our mission and I know he will be embraced warmly by the agency’s professional staff,” Gottlieb said.

Sharpless took the helm of the National Cancer Institute on Oct. 17, 2017. He previously led the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Deputy director Dr. Douglas Lowy will serve as acting director of the National Cancer Institute, HHS said.


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