Ned Sharpless, the current director of the National Cancer Institute, will be named temporary chief of the Food and Drug Administration, taking Scott Gottliebs abandoned post. Sharpless will serve as acting head of the agency when Gottlieb leaves near the end of March, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at an appearance on Capitol Hill last Tuesday.
The appointment of Sharpless, 52, pretty much abates any concerns by so called health advocates that Gottlieb’s departure would signal a letup in the FDA’s ruthless attack on flavors in eLiquids and teen smoking. Sharpless has consistently supported Gottlieb’s efforts to stem what the soon to be former commissioner has called an “epidemic” of youth vaping.
In addition, the National Cancer Institute has worked closely with the FDA to fund research related to e-cigarette use, including the devices’ impact on smoking cessation. Which they must be holding back some of their findings because nothing negative has yet to have turned out from this research. Gottlieb has previously said that e-cigarettes are an important tool to help adults quit smoking traditional combustible cigarettes.
Prior to joining the NCI, the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training, Sharpless was the director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. He received his medical degree from the UNC School of Medicine and did a hematology and oncology fellowship at Dana-Farber Partners CancerCare, an oncology collaboration of Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospitals. Sharpless also co-founded the pharmaceutical company G1 Therapeutics, which is developing cancer treatments for certain lung and breast cancers.
Shares of tobacco giant Altria Group Inc., which recently took a $12.8 billion stake in e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., fell almost a percent possibly in reaction to the news, but most likely a normal fluctuation because we all know their seedy actions all lay in the background of this whole thing. Curiously the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index of stocks rose to a session high after the announcement that Sharpless would become acting commissioner.
What does this mean for the vape world? More par the current course than anything helpful or harmful, so once again we're sitting in a wait and see moment.