A Senate committee has advanced the nomination of Dr. Stephen Hahn as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, with a vote of 18 to 5 in favor.
Hahn, chief medical executive at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, was nominated by President Trump last month to replace Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who left in April.
Hahn must be confirmed by the Senate still, but a vote has yet to be scheduled.
Dr. Norman E. Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, had served as acting commissioner from April until Nov. 1. Since Dr. Sharpless returned to his position at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health, has been running the FDA.
A coalition of patient advocacy groups, including Friends of Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, sent a letter endorsing Hahn to Senate leaders on Monday.
“The United States is at a pivotal moment in terms of public health,” the group wrote. “A confirmed commissioner is critical to ensure F.D.A. is best positioned to continue to carry out the agency’s important mission for millions of Americans.”