According to Politico, President Donald Trump announced last week that he will nominate Stephen Hahn, MD, FASTRO, a cancer specialist and hospital administrator, to lead the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). Trump had been rumored to make this selection for several months.
If confirmed by the Senate, the top FDA post would mark Hahn’s first foray into public service in a quarter of a century. He was chairman of the radiation oncology department at the University of Pennsylvania medical school for nine years until 2015, when he joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas and rose to chief medical executive last year.
The Natural Products Association (NPA) said it is hoping that with the potential shift in leadership, a variety of concerns that have impacted the dietary supplement industry can be addressed.
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has neglected a series of its enforcement obligations over the past several years, meaning unsafe and untested dietary supplement ingredients are being imported to the U.S. and reaching store shelves,” stated Daniel Fabricant, PhD, the association’s president and CEO. “Adulterated ingredients that have not completed the New Dietary Ingredient notification process are entering our country at an alarming rate, and it’s been roughly six years since the FDA provided dietary supplement import alerts to prevent this. This puts American consumers at risk and compliant U.S. supplement-makers at a terrible disadvantage.
“Additionally,” he continued “inaction to date in the CBD marketplace has created a scenario that may lead to the next vaping-like health crisis. Natural Products Association worked with Congressman Jerry McNerney of California who put forth language that was passed in the U.S. House to fund the FDA to establish a safe level of CBD consumption. That legislation currently sits with the U.S. Senate to adopt as well. With more than 1,500 CBD products on store shelves across the country and one in seven Americans using CBD, it’s past time for consumers to have accurate information on CBD and it’s time for producers to be properly regulated. The FDA setting a safe level for CBD consumption will create an urgently needed legal pathway for regulation of CBD products. It’s my hope that with Stephen Hahn as its next commissioner, the FDA will take on these much-needed actions to protect American consumers.
Han’s background is a sharp contrast to Trump’s first FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD, who had a wealth of government experience, including stints at the FDA and CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) in the George W. Bush administration and a long track record of working on health policy issues for Washington interest groups.
Hahn was part of the Public Health Service in the early 1990s and served as the chief of the National Cancer Institute’s prostate cancer clinic in 1994 and 1995. He has not been in government service for about 25 years.
The Trump administration had faced a statutory deadline for nominating a permanent commissioner on Nov. 1. Ned Sharpless, MD, who had been the acting FDA commissioner since Gottlieb’s departure this spring, could only have remained in the position through that day if Trump didn’t nominate a new commissioner. However, the Trump administration instead will temporarily name HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) Assistant Secretary of Health Adm. Brett Giroir, MD as the interim FDA chief until Hahn is installed.