FDA Commissioner Resigns Unexpectedly

March 7, 2019

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced he will step down to spend more time with his family.  Although the move was unexpected, administration officials were quoted praising Gottlieb, and some press speculated he might be offered another top job at a later time.

Though Gottlieb’s background in the pharmaceutical industry drew some initial skepticism, he moved aggressively on a variety of public health issues, especially the regulation of tobacco and e-cigarettes.  On the food front, Gottlieb initiated a wide-ranging nutrition agenda, including potential changes to the rules for foods to be labeled “healthy” and a review of standards of identity.  He also reaffirmed the Obama administration’s decision to require food companies to disclose the amount of added sugars in their products.

There was no immediate announcement about who will fill in as commissioner until a successor for Gottlieb is nominated and confirmed.  The agency has five deputy commissioners, and normal practice would be for one of them to be named acting commissioner.