President Trump has nominated the chief medical officer at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Stephen Hahn, as the next commissioner at the FDA.
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, will step in as acting FDA commissioner while the Senate considers Hahn’s nomination.
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.
If confirmed by the Senate, Hahn will replace Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a Trump nominee who resigned in April. In September, a group of former FDA commissioners and a coterie of health groups backed Sharpless over the other names, including Giroir and Harvard dermatology professor Dr. Alexa Boer Kimball.
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.
Medtech trade group AdvaMed praised Hahn.
“We congratulate Dr. Hahn on his nomination to lead FDA, and we hope the Senate moves swiftly to confirm him,” the organization said in a statement. “Dr. Hahn’s distinguished career as a healthcare provider and researcher gives him a unique perspective on the importance of patient access to the latest medical advances. His extensive management experience and evidence-based approach to addressing the significant health care challenges we face today will serve him well in his new post. We look forward to working with him on behalf of the patients our industry serves.”
The administration had until Nov. 1 to either nominate a permanent commissioner or name another acting commissioner. Sharpless is likely to stay on during the nomination process, according to a report by BioCentury.