The FDA takes the bold step of making cigarettes less addictive
In 2009 a Democratic Congress and president gave the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco. Eight years later, under a White House and Congress controlled by Republicans, the FDA made its strongest use of that authority. On July 28 it said it would move to cut the level of nicotine in cigarettes to nonaddictive levels. The news shocked Washington and Wall Street, sending tobacco stocks plunging and lobbyists scrambling to respond.
The policy is the latest sign that FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who was confirmed in early May, is turning out to be among the most aggressive (and unpredictable) cabinet officials during the early days of the Trump administration. In less than three months, Gottlieb, a 45-year-old physician and cancer survivor, has moved quickly on a number of issues not typically within the FDA’s purview, including the high cost of prescription drugs and the opioid crisis. In June, Gottlieb took the rare step of asking a drug company to pull a powerful opioid pain medication off the market. Although the company wasn’t legally required to do so, it complied.
“I’ve pledged a deep commitment to taking aggressive steps to address the epidemic of addiction to opioids,” Gottlieb said in announcing the nicotine policy. “I’ll pursue efforts to reduce addiction to nicotine with the same vigor.”
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August 07, 2017