A Senate panel has recommended approval of Dr. Stephen Hahn as the new commissioner of the FDA.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions voted 18 to 5 to approve the nomination of Hahn, the chief medical officer at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Hahn would replace acting commissioner Dr. Brett Giroir, the current assistant secretary for health.
If approved by the full Senate, Hahn would be the fourth person to lead the FDA within the past year. Giroir replaced Dr. Ned Sharpless as acting commissioner when President Donald Trump nominated Hahn for commissioner last month. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, also a Trump nominee, resigned from the commissioner’s role in April.
Turnover at the top of the FDA has been steady. Dr. Robert Califf began his tenure in February 2016 and stepped down before Trump took office in January 2017. Gottlieb succeeded Califf, overseeing a record number of approvals for new drugs and therapies. He focused his policy priorities on dealing with opioid addiction and e-cigarettes.
Citing Hahn’s management and research experience, Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) praised Hahn as “exactly the type of nominee” who should lead the FDA, according to a report by the Washington Post. The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), gave Hahn the thumbs-down over his refusal to commit to a ban on non-tobacco e-cigarettes, the Post article added. Trump promised in September to implement a strong policy on the devices, which have been linked to lung disease and deaths, but no policy has been implemented.
Hahn won the support of some other Democrats. Alexander said he hopes Hahn would be confirmed by the end of the year, the Post reported. Medtech trade group AdvaMed praised Hahn upon his nomination.