FDA commissioner unexpectedly resigns

Less than a month after cracking down on dietary supplements, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, announced his resignation March 5, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced. His resignation will be effective in April.

“All of us at HHS are proud of the remarkable work Commissioner Gottlieb has done at the FDA,” said Alex Azar, secretary of the HHS, in the statement. “He has been an exemplary public health leader, aggressive advocate for American patients, and passionate promoter of innovation. I will personally miss working with [Gottlieb] on the important goals we share, and I know that is true for so many other members of the HHS family.”

The resignation comes as a surprise for many in the healthcare industry, following two busy months where the FDA issued warnings to 17 companies claiming to treat Alzheimer’s disease, among other conditions, and announced steps the agency would be taking to strengthen dietary supplements regulation by modernizing and reforming FDA’s oversight.

According to his official biography. Gottlieb previously served as the FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs and before that, as a senior advisor to the FDA Commissioner, before filling the post himself. He is well-liked within the White House, officials told the Washington Post, and was not asked to leave, and may be asked to return in a different capacity in the future. There is no word currently on who will fill the Commissioner position.

“[Gottlieb’s] leadership inspired historic results from the FDA team, which delivered record approvals of both innovative treatments and affordable generic drugs, while advancing important policies to confront opioid addiction, tobacco and youth e-cigarette use, chronic disease, and more,” said Azar. “The public health of our country is better off for the work [Gottlieb] and the entire FDA team have done over the last two years.”