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HHS confirms Sharpless to serve as acting FDA chief

march 13, 2019 By fiercepharma

After FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., abruptly announced his resignation a week ago, the agency has its next acting chief. Ned Sharpless, M.D., currently the director of the National Cancer Institute, is assuming the role.

The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the move on Twitter Tuesday.

HHS confirms Sharpless to serve as acting FDA chief

Sharpless has served as NCI director since October 2017, overseeing the United States' top cancer research organization with an annual budget of nearly $6 billion. Before serving at the institute, he was the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center director since January 2014.

He'll take the reins from Gottlieb, an FDA commissioner popular among the pharmaceutical industry, who served for nearly two years. While running the agency, Gottlieb made lowering drug costs and spurring pharmaceutical innovation two of his top priorities. During his tenure, approval numbers for generics and new brands soared. 

Gottlieb's quick exit a week ago sparked panic in the biopharma world, as the commissioner had been seen as an ally to the industry, or at minimum a regulator with a deep understanding of biopharma.

In Sharpless, the FDA is getting a "great public health champion" and a "dedicated physician," Gottlieb tweeted on Tuesday. He added that Sharpless will be "warmly welcomed" at the agency.

This is a breaking story that will be updated this afternoon with more information.

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