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November 1, 2019
Contact: HHS Press Office
[email protected]

Secretary Azar Statement on FDA Leadership

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is announcing that Dr. Ned Sharpless, who has been serving as Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs, will be returning to his role as Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act requires that a person may not serve in an “Acting” capacity for longer than 210 days. Dr. Sharpless’s tenure of 210 days ends at 5:00 P.M. today, Friday, November 1, and by law he may no longer serve as Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs.

In the interim, pending what the administration hopes will be the expeditious confirmation of Dr. Stephen Hahn, since all duties and authorities of the Commissioner of Food and Drugs reside with the Secretary of HHS, the Secretary is delegating all delegable duties to Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health.

Secretary Azar issued the following statement:

“Under Dr. Sharpless’s leadership for the past seven months, FDA has forged ahead in its essential work of protecting the public health. Dr. Sharpless’s willingness to step into the role of Acting Commissioner, and to lead the team at FDA with a steady hand, ensured that the agency did not miss a beat in advancing its vital mission. With Dr. Sharpless at the helm, the FDA has executed on its core responsibilities while also making progress on key priorities, such as lowering the price of prescription drugs and tackling the growing epidemic of youth use of tobacco products. I am very grateful to have had Dr. Sharpless as a partner in these efforts.

“I look forward to having him back at NCI, where he can continue the important work he has led on administration priorities, such as pediatric cancer, rural cancer care, and precision medicine, and I want to thank Acting Director Lowy for advancing efforts in those areas over the past seven months.

“Admiral Giroir has been an indispensable leader for HHS on a number of public health priorities. As Assistant Secretary for Health, whose authorities include overseeing the U.S. Public Health Service, he will be able to assume the delegable duties of the Commissioner at this time and ensure the FDA’s work continues to move forward.”

Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other news materials are available at https://www.hhs.gov/news.
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Last revised: November 1, 2019

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