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Trump’s FDA Pick Has Extensive Industry Ties and Dangerous Deregulatory Ideas

Statement of Dr. Michael Carome, Director, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group

Note: Today, media outlets indicated that President Donald Trump will nominate Dr. Scott Gottlieb to be the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner. Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a partner at one of the world’s largest venture capital funds – New Enterprise Associates – and a former FDA deputy commissioner.

President Trump’s FDA pick Scott Gottlieb is entangled in an unprecedented web of Big Pharma ties. 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’s ties span decades, and he currently is serving or has recently served on five pharmaceutical companies’ boards including GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s largest pharma companies. Between 2013 and 2015, Gottlieb received a total of at least $413,000 from multiple pharma and medical device companies, most for consulting and speaking fees.

When Gottlieb served as FDA deputy commissioner, he was recused from many key meetings and decisions due to his close relationship with industry. 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.

Aside from the tangle of industry ties, Gottlieb has advocated dangerous deregulatory approaches to the review process for new medications. In exchange for getting medications to the market faster, Gottlieb is willing to accept a greater degree of uncertainty about safety and effectiveness at the time of approval. He also has favored looser restrictions on off-label promotion.

Gottlieb’s appointment would accelerate a decades-long trend in which agency leadership too often makes decisions that are aligned more with the interests of industry than those of patients. The Senate must reject the nomination and demand a nominee who is better suited to protect public health.