The Food and Drug Administration’s top tobacco scientist has accepted a job at tobacco giant Philip Morris International, just weeks after he signed off on the company’s latest vape product.
Matt Holman, chief of the Office of Science at the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), announced his departure from the FDA on Tuesday after 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 as CTP director for nearly a decade. Brian King, who announced Holman’s resignation in an internal memo, was named director earlier this month.
Matt Holman (left), the FDA’s top tobacco scientist, has left the agency to work for Philip Morris International, maker of Marlboro cigarettes. His departure follows the division’s loss of Mitch Zeller (right), who retired in April after serving as CTP director for nearly a decade.
The changes to CTP’s organizational structure come weeks after FDA efforts to regulate the vaping market and the agency’s temporary reversal of a June decision to ban sales of Juul e-cigarettes in stores.
Philip Morris, although best known for the production of Marlboro cigarettes, is also a producer of e-cigarettes, heated tobacco and oral nicotine products.
CTP Holman played a leading role in e-cigarette approvals including IQOS, a ‘hit-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 face new FDA reviews if those issues are resolved.
The product is currently sold in Korea, Japan and other countries, but the firm 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 included working on tobacco harm-reduction efforts, noting that he was drawn to the agency because of its goal of pushing smokers toward non-combustible and less harmful cigarettes. products.
“They’re taking actions that I think would be consistent with that goal,” Holman said. ‘And that really drew my attention to PMI. I’m going there to help them sell more cigarettes, but vice versa.’
The biochemist said he will also provide input on regulatory submissions.
A PMI spokesperson, in a statement to DailyMail.com on Thursday, declined to provide specifics about Holman’s role at the firm but said “he will comply with all applicable post-government employment restrictions.”
These restrictions Dr. Prohibits Holman from appearing or communicating with the FDA on behalf of PMI on any matter for a period of one year.
In addition, Dr. Holman is prohibited for a period of two years from appearing or communicating before the FDA on behalf of PMI in any matter pending under his official responsibility during his final year of government service.
Finally, Dr. Holman is permanently prohibited from appearing or communicating with the FDA on behalf of PMI regarding any particular matter in which he was personally and substantially involved during his entire government service.’
More details about his appointment will be revealed at a later date, but the spokesperson reiterated that the company is ‘looking forward’ to Holman joining their team ‘as we continue to pursue a smoke-free future.’
Holman’s departure comes just weeks after federal regulators temporarily reversed a June decision to ban Juul e-cigarettes from being sold in stores. Philip Morris (NYC headquarters pictured) is also a manufacturer of e-cigarettes and e-vapor devices.
Holman was earning more than $230,000 a year while working at CTP, according to 2020 income reports reviewed by FederalPay.org.
King’s Tuesday memo — which was made public by State News correspondent Nicholas Florco — revealed that Holman was on leave before resigning.
King said the former chief ‘removed himself from all CTP/FDA work in accordance with agency ethics policies while pursuing career opportunities outside the government.’
He also praised Holman for helping the CTP through a ‘critical time’, including ‘preparing and overseeing the review for Bolus of premarket tobacco product applications.’
He said that although he and Holman ‘didn’t have the opportunity to work together,’ he was ‘grateful’ for her contributions to the agency and ‘wish her the best in her next chapter.’
It is unclear what Zeller did as a CTP director, as his income documents have been redacted. However, Glassdoor reports that the average FDA division direct salary is $200,891. Based on Holman’s salary, DailyMail.com analysts estimate the jailer will earn $230,000 annually.
His departure was announced by CTP director Brian King in a memo Tuesday, which was later released by State News correspondent Nicholas Florco.
Critics argue that Holman’s recent career change is due to the ‘revolving door’ between federal officials and the corporations they regulate.
However, federal rules governing career changes do not prohibit an official overseeing regulatory affairs from leaving the agency and then joining corporations with products under review.
The rules bar Holman — or any other former FDA employee — from appearing before the agency about issues in which he ‘personally and substantially participated in the course of government service.’
‘It is legal. That is the bottom line,’ Dr. Director of Public Citizen Health Research Group. Michael Carrom told the Times. ‘This is the kind of revolving door move that really undermines public confidence in the agency.’
Critics argue that Holman’s career change is due to a ‘revolving door’ between federal officials and the corporations they regulate. Pictured: Cigarettes move along a machine during the assembly process at the Philip Morris International production facility in Medellin, Colombia, in June 2017.
Skeptics of the move are also questioning the recent approval of Philip Morris’ smokeless tobacco product, 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 public health standards mandated by law.’
He claimed that Holman ignored a major study showing that e-cigarette use is not associated with reduced smoking rates and that approving vapes is not combating the problem of dual use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
“He signed these consents,” he said. ‘They deal with all these issues by ignoring it, by relying on old studies.’
Earlier this month, the FDA temporarily reinstated sales of Juul e-cigarettes after reviewing the company’s appeal of the decision to remove the products from the market.
The FDA chose to deny the company’s application to remain on store shelves in late June as part of a larger crackdown on teen smoking and the overall tobacco industry.
While many other major e-cigarette manufacturers were allowed to remain on the shelves, Juul was denied. The San Francisco, California, company appealed the decision.
On July 5, the US’s top regulatory agency cited ‘scientific issues’ as reasons for maintaining the ban and allowing the products to be temporarily recalled.
Earlier this month, the FDA temporarily reinstated sales of Juul e-cigarettes after reviewing the company’s appeal of the decision to remove the products from the market (file photo)
“This administrative stay temporarily suspends but does not revoke the marketing denial order pending additional review,” the agency wrote. Tweet.
‘All electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ENDS products, including those made by JUUL, require FDA authorization to be legally marketed. Siting and agency reviews do not constitute a right to market, sell or ship JUUL products.’
Juul gained popularity in the US in the 2010s, as its fruit-flavored nicotine products became popular among young smokers – which the company also blamed for the rise in teen smoking.
To limit the rise in teen smoking, the FDA banned fruit-flavored e-cigarette devices, forcing each company to apply individually to allow their products to remain on the shelves. Juul was expected to approve its application.
Juul brands its products as devices that can help nicotine addicts wean themselves slowly and safely – because vape devices don’t have as many negative side effects as smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Instead, though, the fruity and minty flavors in many of its devices have encouraged many children and teenagers to smoke – when they wouldn’t have otherwise.
This has put Juul, and the e-cigarette market in general, in the FDA’s crosshairs in recent years.