Trump Taps Scott Gottlieb to Lead FDA

Candidate has strong ties to pharma industry

President Trump has chosen Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a conservative health policy expert with ties to the pharmaceutical industry, to head the FDA, according to a Reuters report. Gottlieb is a former FDA deputy commissioner who has advocated a loosening of requirements needed for approval of new medical products. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be in charge of implementing Trump’s plan to cut regulations governing food, drugs, cosmetics, dietary supplements, and tobacco.

One of Gottlieb’s priorities will likely be to streamline the process for approving generic versions of complex, difficult-to-copy therapeutics, Reuters says. He has stated publicly that he does not believe the FDA has good tools or policies to move such products and has advocated the creation of different approval standards.

Gottlieb is viewed favorably by drug companies and pharmaceutical investors, according to Reuters. He sits on the boards of several small drug and biotech companies and is an adviser to GlaxoSmithKline.

A survey of 53 pharmaceutical executives found that 72% favored Gottlieb over other potential candidates. Many described him as knowledgeable, experienced, and balanced.

Gottlieb was chosen over Jim O’Neill, a libertarian investor close to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who advises Trump on technology and science matters. O’Neill's stated view that drugs should be approved before being proven effective generated widespread alarm.

Critics of the nomination say Gottlieb’s financial background presents an array of potential conflicts of interest.

Dr. Michael Carome, director of the liberal/progressive Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said Gottlieb “has spent most of his career dedicated to promoting the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry.” If confirmed, he added, “he will have to be recused from key decisions time and time again.”

Source: Reuters; March 10, 2017.