Although President Donald Trump’s nominee for FDA commissioner has won approval from lawmakers across the aisle, he is facing questions from consumer watchdog Public Citizen over his ties to the drug industry that will likely arise during his confirmation hearings.
The Medical Device Manufacturer Association has voiced its approval for Scott Gottlieb, saying “Dr. Gottlieb is a leading expert on fostering medical technology innovations, and MDMA congratulates him on his nomination to be the next FDA Commissioner. He has dedicated his career to helping patients, and has shaped policies that improve access to lifesaving and life changing treatments.”
Former FDA chief Robert Califf reportedly said in an email “I am breathing a sigh of relief.”
“Scott Gottlieb is a wise choice by the President!,” Andrew von Eschenbach, commissioner under former President George W. Bush, said.
Gottlieb was deputy commisioner at the FDA from 2005 to 2007 and served at the agency for several years before that.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee plans to vet Gottlieb’s nomination and committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has voiced support for the nominee.
But Public Citizen criticized the pick, arguing that his ties to the pharmaceutical industry could affect his role at the FDA.
“Gottlieb is entangled in an unprecedented web of big pharma ties,” Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s health research group, said in prepared remarks. “He has spent most of his career dedicated to promoting the financial interests of the pharmaceutical industry, and the U.S. Senate must reject him.”
Gottlieb is a member of GlaxoKlineSmith’s product investment board and a member of the board of directors for MedAvante, Gradalis and Glytec.
Public Citizen said Gottlieb has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting and speaking fees from drug and device companies between 2013 and 2015.
“If the Senate does not reject Gottlieb, he will have to be recused from key decisions time and time again, otherwise there is no way to be sure he will put the public’s health over industry profits,” Carome said.
Califf said that Gottlieb’s time as a physician and his industry experience will ultimately help him in his role at the FDA, especially as the agency implements the 21st Century Cures law.
“He is highly qualified with previous FDA experience and time in venture capital and clinical practice,” Califf said. “He knows how the FDA works.”