FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigns, dietary supplement industry responds

March 5, 2019

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is resigning from the agency, effective in a month.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is resigning from the agency, effective in a month. At the time this story went to press, FDA had not yet released a public statement on Gottlieb’s resignation; however, FDA’s Twitter account posted a snapshot of a memo the Commissioner sent to his FDA colleagues noting that he wants to spend more time with family. Gottlieb has served as FDA Commissioner since May 2017.

A Washington Post article notes that the resignation was not sought by the White House, and President Trump spoke highly of Gottlieb in a series of tweets, stating, “Scott Gottlieb, who has done an absolutely terrific job as Commissioner of the FDA, plans to leave government service sometime next month…Scott has helped us to lower drug prices, get a record number of generic drugs approved and onto the market, and so many other things. He and his talents will be greatly missed!”

A successor has not yet been named, and it is so far unclear how, and in what tenor, Gottlieb’s successor will lead FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplements. Just this month, Gottlieb announced that FDA, under his leadership, intended to strengthen and modernize dietary supplement regulations. Whether or not that initiative continues, and what direction it takes, remains to be seen. Other looming industry concerns involving FDA include the legal status of hemp cannabidiol (CBD), and it’s unclear how Gottlieb’s resignation could affect that discussion. Just last week, Gottlieb said that FDA would be holding a public meeting in April-with no final date announced-to talk about the regulation of hemp-derived CBD.

In a press statement, Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, DC) president and CEO Daniel Fabricant, PhD, said: “We urge President Trump to consider a new leader for the FDA that will use the Agency’s enforcement powers to get tough on bad actors and lead on new areas like cannabidiol (CBD) and other promising natural products. A lot of ideas were put in motion on trade, NDI intellectual property protection, and NDI enforcement, and we need a partner in government who can help bring those home for consumers and small businesses. We commend Commissioner Gottlieb for his service and look forward to working with the FDA during this transition. The U.S. has the safest nutritional supplements in the world because of collaborative efforts between our industry and federal regulators, and we are confident that collaboration will continue under new leadership.”

Nutritional Outlook will continue updating this story as more public statements are released by dietary supplement industry organizations.