WASHINGTON—Dr. Stephen Hahn, a noted oncologist and cancer researcher, has been cleared by a Senate committee to head up the Food and Drug Administration, a position left vacant in April when Dr. Scott Gottlieb unexpectedly resigned from the post, The New York Times reported.
As reported in NACS Daily last month, Hahn, 59, is the chief medical executive at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Norman E. Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, had served as acting commissioner from April to November 1.
The Senate panel voted 18 to 5 in favor of Hahn. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said Tuesday that she opposed Hahn’s nomination because of his refusal to commit to adopting tough e-cigarette regulations. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah also criticized Hahn’s failure to take a strong stand against e-cigarettes but still voted for him.
Hahn must be confirmed by the Senate, although no vote has been scheduled. He would be stepping into the job as the FDA confronts several crises, including an outbreak of vaping-related lung diseases, the emergence of cannabis as an unapproved treatment for dozens of ailments and safety problems with imported drugs.
The agency also is waiting to learn if the White House will ban flavored e-cigarettes. In late November, during a gathering of tobacco and vaping industry executives and health advocates, which was attended by NACS CEO Henry Armour, Trump reopened the matter but no decision has been made.
Several patient advocacy groups, including Friends of Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, sent Senate leaders a letter supporting Hahn.