On Friday, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Scott Gottlieb to head up the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Gottlieb, 44, is a partner at a venture capitalist firm that focuses on healthcare investments. He has a long history with both the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.
Gottlieb has previous experience with the FDA dating back to the George W. Bush administration, having served as deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs. He has also served as a consultant or board member for various drug companies--including GlaxoSmithKline and Vertex Pharmaceuticals--reportedly earning nearly half a million dollars in payments from pharmaceutical companies between 2013 and 2015 alone.
Proponents of Gottlieb’s nomination say that--considering the other choice to lead the FDA--he was the most logical (even if still lackluster) choice. Gottlieb has been praised by industry executives for his strong science background coupled with plenty of management experience.
Critics--mainly consumer advocates--think that he is a bit too attached to the pharmaceutical industry and that his decisions will benefit the financial interests of big pharma, not consumers. Those not in favor of Gottlieb’s nomination also worry that--just like with anyone nominated for any office--his decisions have lasting effects long after he has moved on from the agency. There is anxiety that faster drug approvals will focus too much on speed and not nearly enough on whether or not those drug are safe.
Trump has made it known that his vision for FDA will be met by greatly reducing regulations and ramping up the speed and frequency of drug approvals. As a frequent contributor to media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, Gottlieb has a history of comments that support the FDA to move swiftly when it comes to approving new drug treatments.
Under Gottlieb’s leadership will be more than 14,000 FDA employees all working to ensure that drugs are approved, imported foods are safe, and regulating tobacco products. Gottlieb’s nomination must pass Senate approval.