World

The FDA’s top tobacco scientist has left his job to work for tobacco giant Philip Morris

The Food and Drug Administration’s top tobacco scientist has accepted a job at tobacco giant Philip Morris International, just weeks after signing off on the company’s latest vape product.

Matt Holman, chief of the office of science in the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), announced his departure from the FDA on Tuesday, effective immediately, after serving more than 20 years at the agency.

His departure adds to ongoing problems within the FDA’s tobacco control division, which is currently under review by agency commissioner Robert Califf.

It also follows the division’s loss of Mitch Zeller, who retired in April after serving nearly a decade as CTP director. Brian King, who announced Holman’s resignation in an internal memo, was named director earlier this month.

His departure follows the division's loss of Mitch Zeller (pictured), who retired in April after serving as CTP director for nearly a decade.

Matt Holman (left), the FDA’s top tobacco scientist, has left the agency to work for Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes. His departure follows the division’s loss of Mitch Zeller (right), who retired in April after serving nearly a decade as CTP director.

Changes to CTP’s organizational structure come amid FDA efforts to regulate the vaping market and just weeks after the agency temporarily reversed its June decision to ban Juul e-cigarettes from being sold in stores.

Philip Morris, although best known for its production of Marlboro cigarettes, is also a producer of e-cigarettes, heated tobacco and oral nicotine products.

While at CTP Holman played an important role in e-cigarette approval, including IQOS, a ‘heat-not-burn’ tobacco device produced by Philip Morris International (PMI).

Although IQOS is not currently sold in the US due to patent issues, it could potentially receive new FDA approvals if those issues were to be resolved.

The product is currently sold in Korea, Japan and other countries, but the company hopes to resume sales in the US next year.

Holman told The New York Times on Wednesday that his role at PMI was “broadly defined” but involved working on tobacco harm reduction efforts, noting that he was drawn to the agency because of its goal of pushing smokers away from using cigarettes to non-combustible ones and less harmful products.

‘They are taking the actions that I think are consistent with such a goal,’ said Holman. ‘And that really drew my attention to PMI. I’m not going there to help them sell more cigarettes, but the other way around.’

The biochemist said he would also provide input on regulatory submissions.

A PMI spokesman, in a statement to DailyMail.com on Thursday, declined to be specific about Holman’s role at the company, but said “he will abide by all applicable post-government employment restrictions.”

‘These restrictions prohibit Dr. Holman to appear before or communicate with the FDA on behalf of PMI regarding any matter for a period of one year.

In addition, Dr. Holman prohibited for a period of two years from appearing before or communicating with the FDA on behalf of PMI regarding any matter pending under his official responsibility during his last year of government service.

‘Finally it is for Dr. Holman permanently prohibited from appearing before or communicating with the FDA on behalf of PMI regarding a particular matter in which he was personally and substantially involved throughout his government service.’

Further details of his appointment will be announced at a later date, but the spokesperson reiterated that the company ‘looks forward’ to Holman joining its team ‘as we continue to strive for a smoke-free future.’

Holman's departure comes just weeks after the federal regulator temporarily reversed its June decision to ban Juul e-cigarettes from being sold in stores. Philip Morris (pictured NYC headquarters) is also a producer of e-cigarettes and e-vaping devices

Holman’s departure comes just weeks after the federal regulator temporarily reversed its June decision to ban Juul e-cigarettes from being sold in stores. Philip Morris (pictured NYC headquarters) is also a producer of e-cigarettes and e-vaping devices

Holman earned more than $230,000 annually while working at CTP, according to 2020 income reports reviewed by FederalPay.org.

King’s Tuesday memo — which was made public by Stat News correspondent Nicholas Florko — revealed that Holman had been on leave before his resignation.

King said the former chief ‘recused himself, in accordance with agency ethics policy, from all CTP/FDA work while he explored career opportunities outside of government.’

He also applauded Holman for helping CTP through a ‘critical time’, which ‘included preparing for and overseeing review for the bolus of premarket tobacco product applications’.

He said that while he and Holman “didn’t have a chance to work together,” he was “grateful” for his contributions to the agency and “wish him well in his next chapter.”

It is unclear what Zeller made as a CTP director because his income documents have been redacted. However, Glassdoor reports that the average direct salary of the FDA division is $200,891. Based on Holman’s salary, DailyMail.com analysts speculate that Zeller earned more than $230,000 annually.

His departure was announced by CTP director Brian King in a memo on Tuesday, which has since been made public by Stat News correspondent Nicholas Florko

His departure was announced by CTP director Brian King in a memo on Tuesday, which has since been made public by Stat News correspondent Nicholas Florko

Critics argue that Holman’s recent career change is concerning because of the “revolving door” between federal officials and the companies they regulate.

However, federal rules governing career changes do not prohibit an official who oversees regulatory affairs from leaving the agency and then joining corporations with products under review.

Rules restrict Holman — or any other former FDA employee — from appearing before the agency on issues he “participated personally and substantially in government service.”

‘This is legal. That’s the bottom line,’ said Dr. Michael Carome, director of the research group Public Citizen Health, told the Times. ‘It’s this kind of revolving door movement that really undermines public confidence in the agency.’

Critics argue that Holman's career change is due to the

Critics argue that Holman’s career change is due to the “revolving door” between federal officials and the companies they regulate. PHOTO: Cigarettes move past a machine during the assembly process at the Philip Morris International manufacturing facility in Medellin, Colombia in June 2017

Those skeptical of the move are also questioning the recent approval of Philip Morris’ smokeless tobacco product, which is an electronic device that, unlike e-cigarettes, contains tobacco.

Dr. Stanton Glantz, a retired professor of medicine, argued that the agency’s approval of IQOS ‘ignored valid scientific evidence and misapplied the public health legal standard.’

He claims that Holman ignored a large study that showed that e-cigarette use was not associated with reduced smoking and that approving vapes does not address the problem of dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

‘He is the one who signed this approval,’ he said. ‘They deal with all these problems by ignoring them, by relying on outdated studies.’

Earlier this month, the FDA temporarily reinstated sales of Juul e-cigarettes after reviewing the company’s appeal of a decision to pull the products from the market.

The FDA chose to reject the company’s application to remain on store shelves at the end of June as part of a larger crackdown on teen smoking and the tobacco industry in general.

While many other major manufacturers of e-cigarettes were allowed to remain on shelves, Juul was rejected instead. The San Francisco, California-based company appealed the decision.

On July 5, America’s top regulatory agency cited ‘scientific issues’ as a reason to stay the ban and temporarily return the products.

Earlier this month, the FDA temporarily reinstated sales of Juul e-cigarettes after reviewing the company's appeal of a decision to pull the products from the market (file photo)

Earlier this month, the FDA temporarily reinstated sales of Juul e-cigarettes after reviewing the company’s appeal of a decision to pull the products from the market (file photo)

“This administrative stay temporarily suspends the marketing denial order during the additional review, but does not rescind it,” the agency wrote in a tweet.

‘All electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS products, including those made by JUUL, are required by law to have FDA authorization to be legally sold. The agency’s stay and review does not constitute an authorization to sell, sell or ship JUUL products.’

Juul surged in popularity in the US in the 2010s as its fruit-flavored nicotine products became trendy among younger smokers – leading to the company also being blamed for increases in teen smoking.

To curb the rise in teen smoking, the FDA banned fruit-flavored e-cigarette devices, forcing each company to apply individually to keep their products on the shelves. Juul was expected to have his application approved.

Juul has branded its products as devices that can help those addicted to nicotine gradually wean themselves off safely – as vape devices do not have many of the same drawbacks as smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Instead, however, the fruity and mint flavors in many of their devices have led to many children and teenagers taking up smoking – when they probably wouldn’t otherwise.

This has put Juul, and the e-cigarette market in general, in the FDA’s crosshairs in recent years.



The FDA’s top tobacco scientist has left his job to work for tobacco giant Philip Morris

Source link The FDA’s top tobacco scientist has left his job to work for tobacco giant Philip Morris

Back to top button