President Donald Trump said Friday that he intended to nominate Scott Gottlieb, a partner at a venture capital fund with long-standing ties to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, to lead the Food and Drug Administration.
The selection of Gottlieb, 44, who served as a top official at the agency during the administration of President George W. Bush, drew praise from industry executives, who had previously expressed concerns that another top contender, Jim O’Neill, held radical views that would have gutted standards for drug approval trials and testing.
“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 FDA and industry are all acting in the interests of patients,” said Dr. Leonard Schleifer, the chief executive of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
But Gottlieb’s experience also elicited sharp criticism from consumer advocates who said he is too deeply tied to the industry.
“He is basically entangled in an unprecedented web of ties to big pharma,” said Dr. Michael Carome, the director of the health research group at Public Citizen, the consumer organization. “He is someone who has been an industry shill and has spent most of his career dedicated to promoting the financial interests of pharmaceutical corporations.”
Trump has made no secret about his desire to overhaul the FDA, telling a group of pharmaceutical executives in January that he planned to slash regulations and speed up drug approvals at the agency.
Gottlieb is a venture partner at New Enterprise Associates, where he focuses on health care investments, and is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. He held various jobs at the FDA during Bush’s presidency.