NEW YORK — The former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regrets not moving on electronic cigarettes sooner, saying in a CNBC interview that the rise in teenagers using the devices was a major concern for him during his two-year stint at the agency.
As part of CNBC’s Healthy Returns conference May 21, Scott Gottlieb, the outspoken commissioner of the FDA from 2017 until his announced resignation this past spring, said the agency struck the wrong balance with e-cigarettes, saying that one of his worst days at the agency was seeing data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.
The FDA took aggressive steps following the release of the survey, among them reaching out to the top five manufacturers of e-cigarettes and asking for specific strategies to combat the spike in teenage use of e-cigarettes.
During the interview, Gottlieb commented on a recent court decision to move up the deadline for manufacturers to submit new-product applications to the FDA, ordering the agency to vacate its decision to push the deadlines for products such as e-cigarettes back to 2021 and 2022. The original deadlines were set for last year.
Gottlieb told CNBC that he agreed that applications should be received earlier but felt the decision was a “bad ruling” and one that could be bad precedent for the future of the agency.
“We were looking to move toward putting those products in earlier anyway. Now whether or not this judge’s ruling provides the impetus for the agency to go in and do that now as opposed to waiting, I don’t know what decision they’re going to make,” Gottlieb said. “If I was there, I would certainly consider taking that action now in review of this judge’s ruling.”