Ned Sharpless, MD, named acting FDA commissioner

Ned Sharpless, MD, director of the National Cancer Institute, will be the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) starting next month, according to a recent announcement by Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services (HHS). The news came just a week after Scott Gottlieb, MD, the current commissioner, unexpectedly resigned.  

Azar said the search of a new FDA commissioner is underway. It has not been confirmed whether Sharpless is on the list of candidates.

The FDA commissioner is an appointment-based position, meaning the president must nominate them, and they must be confirmed by the Senate following a public hearing.

Sharpless previously ran the Linebarger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina, before becoming the director of the National Institutes of Health’s cancer institute. He has worked closely with Gottlieb in the past, particularly regarding tobacco and e-cigarette regulations.

Gottlieb’s resignation came 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.

“I’m delighted by the announcement that [Sharpless] will serve as acting commissioner of the FDA,” said Gottlieb in a statement. “[He] is a friend to the FDA, a great public health champion, a dedicated physician, and will be warmly welcomed in to this new role. The FDA will benefit greatly from his leadership.”