WASHINGTON — Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, MD — currently the National Cancer Institute’s director — will serve as acting FDA commissioner after Scott Gottlieb, MD, leaves the post in early April, the Department of Health and Human Services announced.
Sharpless, a medical oncologist, became NCI director in October 2017. In his absence, Deputy NCI Director Doug Lowy, MD, will serve as acting director, the HHS announcement said.
One sidelight to the announcement was that tobacco stocks took a hit after Sharpless was named to the FDA job, according to Reuters. Gottlieb had promised increased restrictions on tobacco products and had already begun to deliver when he suddenly announced his resignation last week. Tobacco interests interpreted his departure as a positive for them and those with publicly traded stocks saw increases in the following days.
However, the appointment of an oncologist as Gottlieb’s replacement appears to have thrown cold water on investors’ hopes that the FDA would defer action on tobacco.