Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, whose brief tenure has been marked by many consumer-friendly policies, has announced he is resigning.
In the unexpected announcement, Gottlieb said he is leaving his Washington post to spend more time with his family, who remain at the family home in Connecticut. His resignation comes as the FDA commissioner was stepping up his battle against underage use of e-cigarettes, in particular, Juul products.
In September, the FDA took action against e-cigarette retailers and manufacturers who are illegally selling related products to teens and young people. In January, Gottlieb warned that e-cigarettes could be taken off the market unless marketers did something to stop sales to minors.
Just this week, Gottlieb went public with what he said were “thousands” of tobacco-related violations by major U.S. retailers. Gottlieb requested a meeting with Walgreens corporate leadership as part of the agency's ongoing crackdown on e-cigarette sales to minors.
The FDA cites research show an estimated 37 percent of high school seniors have tried e-cigarettes. A quarter of those who did told researchers they didn’t realize the products contain nicotine.
Active against opioids
During his nearly two years at the FDA helm, Gottlieb has also faced the nation’s opioid epidemic head-on. In January 2018, the FDA approved the first generic version of the opioid treatment drug Suboxone (naloxone). At the time, Gottlieb said the move would make sure the drug reaches more people who need it.
Gottlieb also stepped up the FDA’s efforts to promote food safety and has even weighed in on what “healthy” means when it appears on a food label. And though the FDA has no control over drug prices, Gottlieb has consistently called on the health care system to adopt reforms that would lower prescription drug costs to consumers.
Even though he has been a strong advocate for consumers, Gottlieb’s tenure hasn’t been bad for the pharmaceutical industry as the FDA has stepped up its approval of new drugs, to get them into the hands of consumers who need them.
President Trump tweeted his regret at receiving Gottlieb’s resignation, praising the commissioner’s work.
"Scott has helped us to lower drug prices, get a record number of generic drugs approved and onto the market, and so many other things,” Trump said in the tweet. “He and his talents will be greatly missed!"
Gottlieb announced his resignation in a letter to staff. He said he will remain on the job for another month.