U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has chosen David Kessler, the ex-head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for a senior role in the new administration’s efforts to boost the availability of Covid-19 vaccines, reports Reuters.
A pediatrician and lawyer who headed the FDA under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Kessler will be chief science officer of the administration’s Covid-19 response.
In the tobacco industry, Kessler is best known for his efforts to assert FDA authority over tobacco.
During his tenure, the FDA attempted to regulate tobacco products as “delivery devices for the drug nicotine” to bring tobacco products under FDA jurisdiction. Tobacco companies challenged the rules all the way to the Supreme Court and won (FDA v. Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp.).
The Supreme Court ruled that “Congress has clearly precluded the FDA from asserting jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products.”
Kessler’s wish to see tobacco regulated by the FDA was eventually granted by Congress in June 2009 through the bipartisan passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Kessler is not the first tobacco foe to join the Biden administration’s Covid-19 response team. In December, Biden appointed Bechara Choucair—a board member at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids—as vaccinations coordinator.
Biden has vowed to get 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses injected into Americans in his first 100 days in office.