FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb resigned today from his position at the head of the federal watchdog, according to a report from the Washington Post.
Gottlieb, who took the Commissioner role in 2017, said he is stepping down to spend more time with his family, according to the report.
Gottlieb’s exit from the agency was not a result of an action from the White House, the Washington Post reported. A White House official said that Gottlieb had spoken to the president, who did not want him to leave, and added that he could be invited back to another post.
The move, which is slated to take effect in one month, reportedly came as a surprise to FDA officials, as Gottlieb has been hiring new senior staff and pushing through a number of new initiatives at the agency.
In his resignation letter, which was posted in a tweet from Regulatory Focus managing editor Zach Brennan, Gottlieb lauded his 23 months with the FDA, saying he was grateful to the agency and the current administration for “advancing many critical pubic health goals.”
Gottlieb did not touch on his reasons for stepping away from the agency, instead mentioning the many efforts he helped organize or further with the agency, according to the resignation letter.
“All of these efforts were broad undertakings. They took the collective dedication of the professional staff of the FDA, whose commitment to the public health drove these and many other objectives on behalf of Americans. All of these efforts will have palpable impacts on the health of patients and the safety of families. We did all this, and much more, through the hard work, scientific prowess, and public spiritedness of one of the most talented workforces in the Federal government. I’m grateful to have shared these opportunities with my FDA colleagues. I’m thankful for their support and commitment to our shared mission. And I’m thankful to my family for their support in enabling me to take on the privilege of serving in this role. I’m confident that the FDA will continue to advance all these efforts, and many other goals,” Gottlieb wrote in his resignation letter, according to the tweet.
Shortly after news emerged, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar responded to the resignation saying that “the public health of our country is better off” due to the work of the agency and Gottlieb, remarking that he’d personally miss working with him.
“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. I will personally miss working with Scott on the important goals we share, and I know that is true for so many other members of the HHS family. Scott’s leadership inspired historic results from the FDA team, which delivered record approvals of both innovative treatments and affordable generic drugs, while advancing important policies to confront opioid addiction, tobacco and youth e-cigarette use, chronic disease, and more. 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,” Azar said in a tweet.