12.03.19

Senator Murray Votes Against FDA Nominee for Refusal to Commit to Implement Strong Tobacco Policy Amid Trump Administration’s Walk Back On E-Cigarette Regulation

Senator Murray voted against advancing the nomination of Dr. Stephen Hahn for FDA Commissioner in HELP Committee markup

 

After initially promising a strong flavored e-cigarette policy amid skyrocketing youth e-cigarette use, the Trump Administration backtracked after hearing from the tobacco industry

 

When pushed by Murray and other senators, Dr. Hahn refused to commit to following through with the Trump Administration’s promise to ban non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes that have not undergone FDA review

 

Murray on Dr. Hahn’s refusal to commit to previously promised flavors policy: “That’s a big red flag for me, and why I will be voting against his confirmation.” 

 

Washington D.C.—Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, voted against advancing the nomination of Dr. Stephen Hahn to serve as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner. In her remarks at the HELP Committee’s markup, Senator Murray cited her concern with Dr. Hahn’s refusal to commit to taking strong action to respond to the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use—specifically, Senator Murray called out Dr. Hahn for his evasive answers when asked by herself and other senators whether he would follow through on the Trump Administration’s promise to clear the market of all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes that have not undergone FDA review. Since first promising the policy months ago, the Trump Administration has abandoned the idea after hearing from the tobacco industry, and also abandoned a previous proposal to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes.

 

Key excerpts of the Senator’s remarks below.

 

“People across the country have to be confident that the FDA is doing what’s best for public health and for their families, and not letting critical decisions be skewed by ideology, politics, or pressure from companies worried about their bottom line. Given President Trump’s poor track record, it’s more important than ever we make sure we get this right.”

 

“Ultimately, after considering his experience, and his answers in response to this committee, I’m not convinced Dr. Hahn is the right pick for the job. While I have been skeptical about his lack of government experience, public record on FDA’s policy issues, or experience leading an organization as complex as the FDA, I was particularly concerned that when pressed several times, by members on both sides of the aisle. Dr. Hahn refused to commit to implementing a strong policy to clear non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes that have not undergone FDA review from the market—like the Trump Administration promised to do before it heard from the tobacco industry and reversed course. That’s a big red flag for me, and why I will be voting against his confirmation.

 

Full text of the Senator’s remarks below.

 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.  Today we will be voting on Dr. Stephen Hahn’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration.

 

“The FDA has a huge responsibility in keeping our families safe and healthy. When families across the country purchase drugs, biologics, and medical devices they are putting their trust in the FDA to continue upholding the gold standard of safety and effectiveness. When families sit down at the table for a meal, they are counting on the FDA’s efforts to ensure the safety of the food supply and provide them the information they need to make healthy choices.

 

“That’s why it’s so important we make sure Dr. Hahn is qualified to lead this complex agency and committed to rooting decisions in science and data. People across the country have to be confident that the FDA is doing what’s best for public health and for their families, and not letting critical decisions be skewed by ideology, politics, or pressure from companies worried about their bottom line.

 

“Given President Trump’s poor track record, it’s more important than ever we make sure we get this right.

 

“The Trump Administration’s alarming decisions to back track on steps to address youth tobacco use—especially in light of data showing how youth e-cigarette use has skyrocketed—show how much is at stake.

 

“After needlessly delaying strong regulation of e-cigarette products back in 2017 and letting the youth vaping epidemic spiral out of control, President Trump recently abandoned several steps he promised that could help turn the tide.

 

“The Trump Administration has made clear that instead of putting our families and public health first and following through on promises it made to take all non-tobacco flavored e-cigarette products off the market and reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes, it’s going to listen to tobacco companies, abandon those ideas, and ignore the public health consequences.

 

“That’s simply unacceptable. And I’m absolutely going to continue pressing President Trump, the FDA, and Dr. Hahn should he be confirmed to do the right thing, follow the data, follow through on the strong action previously promised, and continue taking bold steps to address this crisis before it’s too late.

 

“Families across the country are counting on the FDA to address this and so many other challenges, like the opioid epidemic, recent E. coli outbreaks in romaine lettuce, faulty medical devices, contaminated drugs, and skyrocketing prescription drug prices.

 

“And we don’t just count on the FDA during crises, but every time we sit down for a meal, get a prescription filled, or rely on a medical device.

“That’s why this Committee needs to take its confirmation responsibility very seriously and why I’ve been so concerned with doing a thorough job of considering Dr. Hahn’s nomination to lead this critical agency.

 

“Ultimately, after considering his experience, and his answers in response to this committee, I’m just not convinced Dr. Hahn is the right pick for the job.

 

“While I have been skeptical about his lack of government experience, public record on FDA’s policy issues, or experience leading an organization as complex as the FDA, I was particularly concerned that when pressed several times, by members on both sides of the aisle, Dr. Hahn refused to commit to implementing a strong policy to clear non-tobacco flavored e-cigarettes that have not undergone FDA review from the market—like the Trump Administration promised to do before it heard from the tobacco industry and reversed course. That’s a big red flag for me, and why I will be voting against his confirmation.

“Should Dr. Hahn be confirmed to lead the FDA, I’m going to be watching every day to make sure he lives up to his commitment to be guided by science and data. Because the families that rely on the FDA to keep them safe deserve no less.

 

“And finally, Mr. Chairman I should note that we are voting on several other important nominations today as well—Richard Giacolone’s nomination to be Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, and the nominations of Cynthia Atwood, and Amanda Laihow to serve as members of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

 

“These are important roles to fill, so I’m glad were able to work together to consider these nominations.

 

“Thank you.”

 

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