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FDA chief Scott Gottlieb is stepping down

WASHINGTON — Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is stepping down after nearly two years leading the agency’s response to a host of public health challenges, including the opioid epidemic, rising drug prices and underage vaping.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Gottlieb’s planned resignation in a statement Tuesday.

President Donald Trump tapped Gottlieb in 2017 to “cut red tape” at the FDA.

Gottlieb bucked expectations by pushing the agency to expand its authorities in several key ways, including an unprecedented effort to make cigarettes less addictive by requiring lower nicotine levels.

More recently, Gottlieb has been criticized for not acting sooner to address an explosion in teenage use of e-cigarettes.

In November, the Food and Drug Administration moved to ban sales of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars while announcing new guidelines for retailers selling flavored e-cigarettes in order to curb the rise in underage smoking and vaping. The ban is the biggest tobacco measure taken by the FDA in nearly a decade. Amna Nawaz interviewed FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb about the moves.

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