Trump admin names National Cancer Institute director as acting FDA chief

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The Trump administration on Tuesday named National Cancer Institute Director Ned Sharpless as acting chief of the Food and Drug Administration.

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The announcement -- first reported by FOX Business -- comes after current Commissioner Scott Gottlieb abruptly resigned earlier this month. He is expected to leave the agency next month. Gottlieb reportedly recommended Sharpless for the role.

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In a statement, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Sharpless has "deep scientific background and expertise [that] will make him a strong leader for FDA."

"There will be no let-up in the agency’s focus, from ongoing efforts on drug approvals and combating the opioid crisis to modernizing food safety and addressing the rapid rise in youth use of e-cigarettes," he said.

Sharpless has led the National Institutes of Health's cancer center since 2017. He previously served as the director of the University of North Carolina's cancer institute.

"Dr. Sharpless is a valued colleague to the FDA and is deeply committed to public health," Gottlieb said in a letter to the agency. "The FDA will continue to secure its consumer protection role and advance policies to promote innovation and safety for families."

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Sharpless is the second NCI director to be picked to lead the FDA, following former FDA Acting Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach's appointment in 2005.