Tuesday March 5th, 2019 could be remembered as a significant day for vaping, whether good or bad. It was on that day that FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced his intent to resign, effective in April. It’s a shocking revelation largely due to the fact that just over two months prior Gottlieb had explicitly shot down rumors that he had intentions to leave. While his policies have been divisive, there wasn’t much credibility to any expectation for FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to resign.
I’ve heard from friends contacted by an online pharma news pub that’s preparing a story speculating that I’m leaving #FDA. I want to be very clear – I’m not leaving. We’ve got a lot important policy we’ll advance this year. I look forward to sharing my 2019 strategic roadmap soon pic.twitter.com/0xQuXnSPbo— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) January 3, 2019
Vapers will remember Dr. Gottlieb for the somewhat tumultuous path he’s taken the vaping industry along. Initially, keen observers may have been excited about his appointment to the Commissioner position, given his interests in a vape company, Kure. In fact, one of his first vaping-related actions as FDA Commissioner was to delay the deadline for PMTAs , from August 8th 2018 to the same date in 2022, set by the previous FDA Commissioner, while also committing to the “goal of cigarettes that are minimally or non-addictive by lowering nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes, while allowing adults who still seek nicotine to get it from other, potentially less harmful sources.” This was initially seen as a boon for science on both fronts, notably allowing more time for increased vaping research.
The delay of the PMTA deadline was a relatively short-lived excitement, though, as Dr. Gottlieb would declare youth vaping an “epidemic,” citing unpublished research. This signaled a turn from nicotine levels to flavors was complete. Despite public health experts pushing back on the data such as this, and numerous studies about the benefits of vaping in regards to youth smoking rates, the FDA’s “epidemic” terminology changed the landscape dramatically, as it spawned the “Truth Initiative” and their own marketing campaigns.
Outside of Vaping
As a whole, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s resignation will likely leave his legacy as one that combated opioid addiction and allowed numerous general medications on to the market. The broad picture of his legacy with the FDA will also include being #6 on the “50 Greatest World Leaders” list.
The Dr. Gottlieb’s resignation will likely bring more questions than answers for vaping. While he repeatedly went against the de-regulation standard of the current government administration, he, at times, went against what many health and vaping experts believe to be the path to solutions to problems. Any speculation at who the next FDA Commissioner will be is only topped by speculation on what that could do to or for the vaping industry. Without Gottlieb, though, it’s likely that August 8th 2018 could have been the veritable end of the industry, so we could owe that to his tenure. A new Commissioner, though, could also undo all of that. Once again the vaping industry is playing the waiting game.
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