FDA Commissioner Gottlieb Resigns

The move comes a day after the FDA releases action steps for retailers selling tobacco to underage youth.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced his resignation Tuesday, March 5, effective next month, according to a report by The Washington Post.

According to The Washington Post, the White House did not request the resignation. An FDA official told the paper Gottlieb wants to spend more time with his family after commuting weekly to Washington from Connecticut, where he lives with his wife and three daughters.

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The resignation comes just as Gottlieb’s core focus of tackling underage vaping, was coming to center stage. Just yesterday he outlined action steps for retailers selling e-cigs to underage customers. NATO reported that—according to a news report issued by Axios—Commissioner Gottlieb met with White House officials last week to brief them on upcoming FDA policy changes.

The Washington Post noted his plans to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes are currently being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

While plans are likely to move forward, some controversial tobacco initiatives he was spearheading have not yet been completed, including proposed bans on menthol cigarettes, and reducing nicotine levels in cigarettes.

Wells Fargo Weighs In
“While we share the surprise by the announced resignation of FDA Commissioner Gottlieb reported today by The Washington Post, we think this major development will be broadly viewed as a positive for the tobacco industry, although this introduces some uncertainty,” said Wells Fargo Securities Senior Analyst Bonnie Herzog. “We believe his resignation calls into question whether or not the FDA will in fact enforce harsher regulations around youth e-cig usage/access, cig nicotine limits and a cig menthol ban given he was the champion behind these initiatives. We also believe his resignation could have implications (positive, we hope) for the FDA’s approvals of the premarket and modified risk applications for iQOS —long overdue, in our view (and with no clear explanation from the FDA). We expect tobacco stocks to react favorably to this news and reiterate our outperform ratings on Altria and Philip Morris.”