Scott Gottlieb, the head of the Food and Drug Administration resigned on Tuesday, stating that he wished to spend more time with his family, the Washington Post reports. Gottlieb has worked at the FDA since May 2017 and is expected to continue overseeing the division for several weeks.
Gottlieb was considered a relatively mainstream selection by the Trump administration. He previously worked as a deputy commissioner for the FDA during the George W. Bush administration and as a physician defended the effectiveness of vaccines. Some critics, however, feared that he was too closely tied to the pharmaceutical industry.
The FDA is responsible for regulating and inspecting roughly 80 percent of the United States food supply, including items like seafood, dairy, and processed foods such as applesauce. During his time as commissioner, Gottlieb took on issues such as flavored e-cigarettes, restaurant calorie counts, drug costs, and the opioid crisis.
This winter was a particularly trying period for the agency. The longest partial government shutdown in the nation’s history, which began in December, saw all “non-essential” government employees furloughed for weeks — including many of the FDA’s important food inspectors. Alarmingly, at one point, the furloughs meant the FDA was skipping more than 50 of its average 160-per-week “high-risk” food inspections. Roughly 31 percent of the FDA’s overall inspections are considered “high-risk.” Gottlieb eventually brought hundreds of FDA workers back to work without pay for the duration of the shutdown.
I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to help lead this wonderful agency, for the support of my colleagues, for the public health goals we advanced together, and the strong support of @SecAzar and @realDonaldTrump – This has been a wonderful journey and parting is very hard. https://t.co/1Zu9y7NTwR
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) March 5, 2019
Gottlieb’s departure, unlike some in the Trump administration, appears to be relatively civil. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services secretary Alex Azar, whose agency oversees the FDA, praised Gottlieb’s work. “The public health of our country is better off for the work Scott and the rest of the FDA team have done for the last two years,” he said in a statement. President Donald Trump also weighed-in on Gottlieb’s impending departure, tweeting that the FDA head had “done an absolutely terrific job.”
• FDA Commissioner Gottlieb, Who Raised Alarms About Teen Vaping, Resigns [WaPo]
• USDA vs. FDA: What’s the Difference? [E]
• So Who’s Inspecting Our Food During the Government Shutdown? [E]
• Why Scott Gottlieb Is the One Trump Official Everybody Seems to Like [Vox]