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National Cancer Institute chief Norman Sharpless to serve as acting FDA head

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Cancer experts and advocates praised the appointment of Sharpless as acting FDA chief after Scott Gottlieb’s abrupt resignation earlier this month

National Cancer Institute Director Norman Sharpless will serve as acting commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, following the resignation of Scott Gottlieb recently. Sharpless, who has led the National Institutes of Health’s cancer unit since 2017, will take over following Gottlieb’s exit in April, the US Department of Health and Human Services has said.

Cancer experts and advocates praised the appointment of Sharpless as acting FDA chief after Gottlieb’s abrupt resignation earlier this month.

“We have no doubt that Dr Sharpless will continue to navigate and direct the FDA in a manner that best benefits patients, and we look forward to executing critical work with him in his new role,” Ellen Sigal, founder and chair, Friends of Cancer Research, said in a statement.

The search for a permanent FDA chief is still under way.

As director of the National Cancer Institute, Sharpless directed the largest division within the National Institutes of Health. He previously served as director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he was a practising oncologist specialising in leukemia.

Lisa Lacasse, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, said it will be “vital” that Sharpless continue to advance policies backed by Gottlieb aimed at cutting the soaring rates of youth tobacco use, especially e-cigarettes.

Anti-regulation groups and some industry groups, however, raised objections to his efforts, which ran counter to the administration’s goal of easing government regulations.

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