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Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > 2019 > 12 > Hahn Wins Senate Confirmation to be 24th FDA Commissioner

Hahn Wins Senate Confirmation to be 24th FDA Commissioner

Posted 12 December 2019 | By Zachary Brennan 

Hahn Wins Senate Confirmation to be 24th FDA Commissioner

The full Senate voted on Thursday 72-18 to confirm Stephen Hahn, chief medical executive of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, to be the next commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The vote came just over a month since he was nominated, although in that time little information has come to light about how he plans to direct FDA, which oversees products that account for about 20 cents of every dollar spent by US consumers. Still, senators on both sides of the aisle seemed convinced that he’ll be able to handle the job.

In his health committee hearing last month, senators offered limited opposition to his nomination and the 18 to 5 vote in his favor included six Democrats.

Issues that came up in the hearing included the regulation of vaping and the Trump administration’s reversal on a plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes. And although Hahn did not say he would stand up to the administration, he did say that this is an “urgent crisis” and, “Nothing is more important than protecting our youth.”

In supporting Hahn, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in a statement on Wednesday: “Dr. Hahn said to me he doesn't want to be known in history as the head of the FDA who saw this epidemic grow dramatically when it comes to vaping by young people. I’m going to give him my vote and I do it with the hope that he will have a persuasive voice with Sec. Azar and the Administration to move in the right direction.”

But on other matters related to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, Hahn’s opinions are less understood.

On a question on drug importation (a proposal is expected in January) in his hearing, Hahn discussed FDA’s role in assessing the safety and security of the nation’s drug supply, adding: “I look forward to looking at the data and providing it to HHS.” He also committed to working with Congress on drug shortages and over-the-counter drug monograph reform, which the Senate passed earlier this week.

It also remains to be seen whether Hahn will follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Scott Gottlieb and continue with his agenda as Acting Commissioners Ned Sharpless and Brett Giroir have done, or if he’ll forge his own path.

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