Sharpless Returns to NCI as Administration Moves to Nominate Hahn to Lead FDA

November 1, 2019

The Trump administration is supporting Stephen Hahn, MD, FASTRO, the chief medical officer of MD Anderson Cancer Center, as the next FDA commissioner, and the current acting commissioner, Ned Sharpless, MD, is returning to his old job as head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The Trump administration is supporting Stephen Hahn, MD, FASTRO, the chief medical officer of MD Anderson Cancer Center, as the next FDA commissioner, and the current acting commissioner will return to his old job.

HHS said Friday that Ned Sharpless, MD, who has served in an acting capacity since Scott Gottlieb, MD, left last May, is returning to his old job as head of the National Cancer Institute.

“The Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires that a person may not serve in an ‘Acting’ capacity for longer than 210 days. Dr. Sharpless’s tenure of 210 days ends at 5:00 P.M. today, Friday, November 1, and by law he may no longer serve as Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs,” HHS said in a statement.

The Washington Post reported Friday that Hahn cannot be formally appointed because his his paperwork is not yet ready. In the interim, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health, will run the FDA.

“Under Dr. Sharpless’s leadership for the past seven months, FDA has forged ahead in its essential work of protecting the public health. Dr. Sharpless’s willingness to step into the role of Acting Commissioner, and to lead the team at FDA with a steady hand, ensured that the agency did not miss a beat in advancing its vital mission. With Dr. Sharpless at the helm, the FDA has executed on its core responsibilities while also making progress on key priorities, such as lowering the price of prescription drugs and tackling the growing epidemic of youth use of tobacco products. I am very grateful to have had Dr. Sharpless as a partner in these efforts,” Azar said in a statement.

In a statement, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) expressed strong support for the nomination of Hahn, a radiation oncologist, to lead the FDA; Hahn served on the ASTRO Board of Directors from 2014 to 2018.