The U.S. Senate has confirmed Dr. Stephen Hahn as the next commissioner of the FDA.
The vote was 72 to 18, according to a report in the New York Times. Hahn will be the first permanent commissioner of the agency since Dr. Scott Gottlieb resigned in April.
President Trump nominated Hahn, the chief medical officer at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, in November. Hahn supplanted other candidates, including acting commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless, who will return to the National Cancer Institute, according to a report by The Hill. Dr. Brett Giroir, the current assistant secretary for health, stepped in as acting FDA commissioner while the Senate considered Hahn’s nomination.
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.
A radiation oncologist, Hahn took the helm at M.D. Anderson in May 2018. A longtime Republican donor, Hahn backed all of the Republican presidential nominees dating back to Mitt Romney but did not support Trump, according to STAT. Hahn has never served in a government post and his agenda for the FDA is unknown, the medical news site reported separately.
Medtech trade group AdvaMed praised Hahn, who has faced scrutiny over whether he would work to ban most flavored e-cigarettes. Trump proposed such a ban in September, but has not followed through.
“Dr. Hahn is an excellent choice to lead FDA, and we congratulate him on his swift and overwhelming bipartisan confirmation,” the trade group said. “During the confirmation process, Dr. Hahn demonstrated his deep understanding of the agency’s mission to protect and promote the public health and the role of innovation in improving patient care. His background as a physician, researcher and administrator will serve the American people well at this vital agency. We look forward to working with him on behalf of the patients our industry serves.”