Meet Stephen Hahn, the New FDA Commissioner

December 13, 2019, 12:16 AM UTC

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Good afternoon, readers.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed a new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Stephen Hahn, a renowned cancer doctor widely expected to win the role, got the position in a 72-18 vote.

While the sailing was relatively smooth in an era of choppy partisan waters, there were some tough questions that faced Hahn, the chief medical executive at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas—one of the most famous cancer institutes in the world.

Foremost was the question of how Hahn would approach the issue of e-cigarette regulation. While questioned by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee, Hahn said that there were a number of issues that “will come before the commissioner that are complex and engender honest disagreement.”

But he’s also won plaudits from patient groups given his history of supporting cancer patients. An 18-5 vote in the HELP committee helped him get a 72-18 vote in the full chamber. Now, Hahn will be responsible for one of the most important regulatory agencies in the United States.

Another note: Hahn, after acting FDA director Ned Sharpless, will be yet another oncologist appointed to the role (Sharpless used to run the National Cancer Institute before taking over at the agency).

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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