December 12, 2019 / 7:42 PM / a month ago

Senate confirms Stephen Hahn as new FDA chief

(Reuters) - Dr. Stephen Hahn was on Thursday confirmed as the new head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, taking charge at a regulatory agency that oversees products ranging from complex cancer drugs, to food, cosmetics and tobacco.

Hahn takes over as the FDA commissioner when E-cigarettes and vaping products have killed about five dozen people in the United States and hospitalized more than 2,400.

His predecessor Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down in April, was well regarded by public health advocates and won bipartisan support for his efforts to curb youth use of flavored e-cigarettes.

Hahn is a radiation oncologist who has been with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston since 2015 and experts had highlighted his status as an outsider likely played a role in his nomination by President Donald Trump.

Hahn passed over Ned Sharpless, who served as acting FDA commissioner. Sharpless returned to his role as director of the National Cancer Institute in November.

Other major challenged that Hahn likely faces include the opioid crisis and intermittent drug shortages.

The Senate voted 72 to 18 to confirm Hahn as commissioner.

Reporting by Tamara Mathias and Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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