Oncologist Stephen Hahn Trump's Likely Pick for Next FDA Chief: Reports

Megan Brooks

October 03, 2019

President Donald Trump is likely to nominate Stephen Hahn, MD, currently chief medical executive of the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, to serve as the next permanent commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to multiple media outlets.

However, MD Anderson told Medscape Medical News it has no information regarding Hahn's nomination (as of October 2). The White House and FDA have not responded to a request by Medscape Medical News for comment on the reports.

Dr Stephen Hahn. MD Anderson

Since Scott Gottlieb, MD, stepped down as FDA commissioner in April, former National Cancer Institute (NCI) director Norman "Ned" Sharpless, MD, has been serving as interim chief of FDA while the Trump administration searches for a permanent replacement.

Hahn's nomination would fly in the face of multiple influential people, including former FDA commissioners and health groups, who have lobbied for Sharpless to be named the permanent FDA commissioner, The Washington Post reported last month.

A Politico article last month named Hahn the "clear frontrunner" for the position, citing his leadership experience as head of MD Anderson, his longtime GOP donor status, and the fact that he's accepted relatively little money from the pharmaceutical industry — a resume that could yield a quick confirmation, Politico said.

Hahn has no regulatory or industry experience. He has spent much of his career at academic medical centers, beginning at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1990s, before heading to MD Anderson. 

Hahn served in the government from 1989-1995 as senior investigator and commander in the NCI's US Public Health Service. He is a long-standing member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and serves on the board of directors of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

High on the list of tasks for the next FDA commissioner will be tackling the vaping crisis, which has been linked to more than 800 cases of lung injury during the past several months and at least 12 patient deaths in 10 states.

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