Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), is resigning.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Gottlieb resigned earlier today and will officially leave his post in about a month, he was confirmed in May 2017. Prior to his tenure at FDA, Gottlieb was a physician and venture capitalist with a wide range of investments, including in Kure, an e-cigarette company.
Gottlieb oversaw the government agency as it began to implement the next step in the deeming regulations, the first time the U.S. government has regulated the premium cigar industry. While many had hoped that the business-friendly Gottlieb would offer the cigar industry relief, sources said he was much more focused on new initiatives furthering regulation of e-cigarettes and vaping products, an effort that intensified last year after Juul, one of the largest e-cigarette brands, sold a portion of its company to Altria, the world’s second-largest tobacco company.
Last Friday, a report by Axios detailed Gottlieb’s most ambitious e-cigarette regulation plan. According to the story, Gottlieb pitched a proposal to the White House on Friday that would have required any retailer selling flavored e-cigarettes to require potential customers to show identification prior to walking into the establishment. The move would effectively ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in gas stations, convenience stores and other mainstream retail outlets.
FDA has not formally announced any such plan.
On the cigar side, Gottlieb opened the door to the agency revaluating its cigar rules, highlighting it as a priority for the agency in late 2017. Last year, FDA sought comment as to whether it should reevaluate premium cigars as part of an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM).
As recently as last week Gottlieb told Congress that the agency was still evaluating its premium cigar regulations.
Beyond that, Gottlieb’s FDA has toed the line of an agency tasked with regulating all tobacco products. It took a court order to delay the warning label requirements and there’s a potential for another court order to delay the testing deadline for harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs), though sources have told halfwheel the agency has shown some willingness to delay that deadline on its own.
For many Gottlieb will be remembered as someone who didn’t deliver the industry-favorable policies that he was expected to bring. As this site noted repetitively during his confirmation process, in 2012 Gottlieb he wrote an article for the New York Post arguing that cigars fell outside of Congress’ intent as part of the Tobacco Control Act.
Alex Azar, the director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), issued the following statement:
All of us at @HHSGov are proud of the remarkable work @SGottliebFDA has done at FDA. The public health of our country is better off for the work the @US_FDA team has done over the last two years, and I will personally miss working with Scott. pic.twitter.com/EoUPTjkeJW
— Alex Azar (@SecAzar) March 5, 2019