No Shortage of Controversies for New FDA Commissioner

Thomas M. Burton, The Wall Street Journal: January 29, 2020

New Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen M. Hahn rises at 4 a.m.
each day for an hour of intensive strength and stamina training. On stressful days, he fits a second
workout in during the late afternoon.

Dr. Hahn, 60, takes over an FDA under fire for failing to adequately respond to the health threat from
growing use of e-cigarettes and vaping products. This spring, he and the agency will face applications
from e-cigarette companies and have to decide what e-cigarette products can qualify to stay on the


Dr. Hahn also faces thorny decisions on stem-cell research and use of cannabidiol, or CBD, that will
likely put him in the hot seat between rival advocacy groups.

The man taking on these challenges comes to the FDA with a sterling reputation in medicine and
management, but with no previous government experience, unlike his predecessor Scott Gottlieb.
That has some concerned about his ability to tackle the issues ahead.

“Always we have concerns when someone comes in who doesn’t know the FDA, which is a complex organization,” said Diana Zuckerman, president of the public-interest research group National Center for Health Research in Washington.  “I never think it’s a good idea.”

What’s more, Dr. Hahn may not have long to make his mark if Mr. Trump fails to win re-election Nov. 3.
“It’s a hard thing to come in with so little time [in the president’s term] and so little government
experience,” said a former FDA commissioner, Robert Califf, who served under President Obama. “It’s
so difficult to change policy with so little time.”

Dr. Hahn didn’t immediately comment for this article.


Read the original story here.