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Scott Gottlieb, big pharma advocate, tapped to lead FDA

By
Eric DuVall
The Food and Drug Administration's headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., is seen here. President Donald Trump has nominated Scott Gottlieb, a conservative physician and drug company advocate, as the FDA's new leader. Photo courtesy FDA/Flickr
The Food and Drug Administration's headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., is seen here. President Donald Trump has nominated Scott Gottlieb, a conservative physician and drug company advocate, as the FDA's new leader. Photo courtesy FDA/Flickr

March 11 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump has named conservative physician Scott Gottlieb to lead the Food and Drug Administration, winning praise from pharmaceutical companies.

Gottlieb, 44, was the deputy commissioner of the FDA under former President George W. Bush and has had long ties as an advocate for drug companies, a fact that prompted criticism from some consumer groups who said he may be too deferential to big pharma as he oversees the FDA's drug approval process.

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Trump has been critical of the FDA in the past, saying its trial and evaluation process for new medications is too slow and burdensome. Another rumored potential pick for the FDA was Jim O'Neill, an outspoken FDA critic who has advocated gutting the agency's approval process. In 2014, O'Neill, a Silicon Valley executive, called on the FDA to allow drugs to be marketed to patients once proven safe, even if they had not been proven effective for their stated use, The Washington Post reported.

Gottlieb, by contrast, is viewed by industry leaders as a more mainstream choice who will not seek to fundamentally alter the FDA's approval process for new drugs.

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"I think Scott is science-based, he's patient-focused, he's got strong management skills and he's intellectually tough, so he will use all of that to make sure the F.D.A. and industry are all acting in the interests of patients," Leonard S. Schleifer, the chief executive of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, told The New York Times.

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