Trump considers next FDA commissioner

Health groups urge Trump to appoint Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless.

Finding a replacement for former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, who resigned earlier this year, is proving to be controversial.

While many health groups and former FDA Commissioners are pushing for Acting FDA Commissioner Norman “Ned" Sharpless, MD, to be named to the post, some experts believe President Trump is not likely to appoint Sharpless.

Related:HHS names FDA acting chief as Gottlieb resignation sparks worries

Sharpless donated to Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns and to other Democrats. And some legislators have criticized Sharpless for not working hard enough to stem youth vaping, the Washington Post reported.

In fact, Trump met with another leading candidate, Stephen Hahn with the Department of Radiation Oncology-Clinical at MD Anderson Cancer Center, last week. The Trump administration is also considering Alexa Boer Kimball, a Harvard dermatology professor and president and chief executive of the Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the Washington Post reported.

However, in their letter to Trump and HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar, numerous health and medical groups-including the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network-pushed for Sharpless to receive the top post.

Related:GAO: Generic drug approvals too slow

“During his brief time at FDA, [Sharpless] has continued to navigate and direct the agency in a manner that best benefits patients and is effectively executing the critical work of the agency. His presence has been a calming force, which has gained him the respect of the agency staff and those that support its mission,” the groups wrote. “We strongly urge the Administration to make Dr. Sharpless its nominee to become the permanent commissioner of the FDA. This nomination will be supported by the patient advocacy community as well as leading scientific and research institutions across the country.”

Sharpless was director of the National Cancer Institute and also served as director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and was a practicing oncologist specializing in leukemia.

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