Gottlieb and Tobacco
Many are watching the confirmation hearing of Gottlieb for a hint of what may be to come in terms of tobacco regulation. When asked about flavored e-cigarette and cigar products, Gottlieb refused to commit to banning or prohibiting these products. He acknowledged that a line needed to be drawn, especially when it comes to the names of certain tobacco products that may make them more appealing to consumers, but countered that the line needed to be drawn by experts with a scientific background.
During the hearing, Gottlieb indicated that his priority as the leader of the FDA would be to take on the opioid epidemic which he said was “having staggering human consequences” and would “require dramatic action.” He challenged the FDA to develop alternatives to opioid drugs and to evaluate medical devices and therapy to help those who were struggling with addiction.
Gottlieb re-affirmed his commitment to preventing kids from starting to smoke, saying, “I’m not going to countenance a rise in adolescence smoking rates in this country under my watch.”
Gottlieb did say there could be a role for vaping in getting smokers away from combustable tobacco cigarette products. Also, while many questioned his ties to big drug companies, Gottlieb also said he’d be able to use his insider knowledge of how drug companies operate and work to prevent them from taking advantage of the FDA for their own commercial advantage.
“I want to earn and keep the public’s trust,” Gottlieb said during his hearing. “I recognize the importance of bringing impartiality to this role.”
According to a spokeswoman, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee will vote on Gottlieb after the upcoming Congressional recess.