Shortly after the inauguration of Joe Biden, it was announced that Dr. Stephen Hahn would be leaving his post as FDA commissioner. Some experts noted Dr. Hahn’swillingness to cave in to political pressure, especially regarding the COVID-19 crisis. This compromised the FDA’s ability to use the very science and evidence Dr. Hahn promised to do with vaping. Who are some of these candidates, and where do they stand? The eJuices.co team investigates.
Dr. Janet Woodcock
Currently, Biden has appointed Dr. Janet Woodcock to lead the FDA, but this is just a temporary fix until a permanent successor has been named. American Vaping Association (AVA) president Gregory Conleytweeted, “No Biden FDA pick is going to magically reform the broken PMTA process.” He was optimistic about Dr. Woodcock, saying, “Woodcock is at least an institutionalist who will likely respect the autonomy of different divisions.” This indicates that Dr. Woodcock may not likely bring the FDA into political disputes about whether or not flavors should be legal.
However, the vaping industry should view any Biden pick with healthy skepticism. Dr. Woodcock has no known positions on vape. However, she does have 34 years under her belt at the FDA. She has been the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) since 2008, giving her that expertise that may align with the current administration’s agenda to combat COVID-19.
Dr. Joshua Sharfstein
Many reports have named Dr. Joshua Sharfstein as a potential FDA commissioner. If Biden chooses Dr. Sharfstein as the new head of the FDA, the vaping industry may be under attack even more than it is today. Sharfstein’s ties to former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who has funded anti-vaping movements, will definitely pressure the vaping industry. Reports claim that thepowerful pharmaceutical lobby opposes Sharfstein’s nomination. This could make Sharfstein’s nomination an uphill battle in an evenly divided Senate, even though Vice President Kamala Harris holds a tie-breaking vote.
Sharfsteindoes share a position many in the vaping industry hold: to not let minors access vaping products. However, his op-ed points to a place that many would not expect has much to do with the vaping industry: the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which ultimately approves rules from the FDA and other agencies. This is part of the executive branch and the head of this department needs Senate confirmation. The current nominee is Neera Tanden, who also has no known positions on vape, which will ultimately raise more questions than answers when vaping is brought up during the confirmation process.
A Compromise Candidate?
Other names have been touted by industry experts, given the Biden administration’s push to roll out COVID-19 vaccines to all Americans. It may be likely that given the even split
between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, a compromise candidate may even be necessary since Democrats only hold the Senate by Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote. Ideally, the new FDA head should be someone who focuses on science and evidence and keeps politics out of the scientific process.
That’s all for this edition of the State of Vape. If you have any further questions or concerns, you can always contact your eJuices.co account manager or sales representative. We’re looking forward to speaking with you!