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Scott Gottlieb appointed to the FDA's top role

Published on: 11/05/17

After months of scrutiny, Scott Gottlieb has been confirmed as the new Commissioner of the FDA, following his nomination by President Trump back in March.

The decision is not very surprising for anyone who has followed the story. Among the predicted frontrunners for the role, Dr Gottlieb appeared the most measured and qualified. He advanced to the final stages of approval at the end of April when a Senate committee voted 14-9 in favour of accepting him for the role. Now, the Senate awarded him the position with a vote of 57-42 in favour.

The vote was decisive, but also indicative of divisions of opinion between republican and democrat senators, with cast votes falling mostly along party lines.

“He has not convinced me he can withstand political pressure from this administration, or that he will be truly committed to putting our families’ health first,” remarked Senator Patty Murray in the run-up to the vote. Fears among the Senate were primarily derived from Gottlieb’s history as a venture capitalist and consultant within the industry, having worked contracts for GSK, Vertex and more, which raises serious concerns over partisanship.

“I’ve grown increasingly concerned about whether he can lead the FDA in an unbiased way, given his unprecedented industry ties,” Senator Murray had added. Dr Gottlieb announced he would counter these apprehensions by severing these past ties to avoid any potential conflicts of interest during his time in the role.

Dr Gottlieb is no stranger to senior responsibility within the organisation, having served as Deputy Commissioner during the Bush administration. Now, his primary remit upon taking up the mantle will be to deliver on Trump and other republican’s pressures to deregulate the FDA’s drug appraisal process with a goal of accelerating access to medicines.

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