The US Senate approved controversial nominee Dr. Scott Gottlieb to be the new Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. He is a physician and former deputy FDA commissioner who has ties to the pharmaceutical industry he is supposed to regulate.
Gottlieb has worked with health care companies as part of global venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates and boutique investment firm T.R. Winston & Co., and he has sat on a board at GlaxoSmithKline PLC, among other positions.
Conflicts of interest
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) criticized Gottlieb’s industry ties. “I am deeply concerned about Mr. Gottlieb’s extensive ties to the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries and asked him to address potential conflicts of interest that may arise during his tenure at the FDA. I pushed him to commit to making decisions that are in the best interest of public health, and asked how he plans to ensure that his industry ties and the radical views of the Trump administration will not affect his decision-making should he be confirmed.
“President Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” and as it stands, Mr. Gottlieb’s ties to the companies and industries he will regulate do exactly the opposite.
“It is critical that the FDA have independent leadership focused squarely on putting patients and families first, and I look forward to a thorough, rigorous vetting and hearing process to determine whether Mr. Gottlieb is appropriate for this role.”
Gottlieb promoted opiods
Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement today after revelations in a Washington Post story indicate that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the Trump administration’s nominee to run the FDA, worked on behalf of one company, Cephalon, to raise the quota of the addictive opioid fentanyl at the same time the prescription opioid epidemic was exploding.
The Washington Post story details how Dr. Gottlieb advocated for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to raise the quota of fentanyl that Cephalon could manufacture and put on the market even while the company was under investigation for pushing doctors to prescribe the addictive painkiller for headaches and back pain when it was meant for late-stage cancer patients. Cephalon pleaded guilty in 2008 to illegally promoting the fentanyl drug and paid a $425 million fine.
Senator Markey has sent a letter to the DEA requesting more information on Dr. Gottlieb’s involvement with this request to increase fentanyl quotas for Cephalon.
“Dr. Gottlieb seems to believe that pharmaceutical profits are more important than the public’s health. When the prescription opioid epidemic was exploding, Dr. Gottlieb advocated to put even more addictive fentanyl onto the market when it wasn’t appropriate or necessary. Dr. Gottlieb said during his confirmation hearing that the FDA unwittingly fueled the opioid epidemic, but he is guilty of intentionally pushing an addictive prescription opioid onto the American public just to benefit one company. Instead of working to prevent this massive public health crisis, Dr. Gottlieb’s actions could have made the opioid crisis worse.
“Serious questions remain about Dr. Gottlieb’s association with Cephalon, which was fined hundreds of millions of dollars for violating FDA rules. We need answers about this potentially disqualifying conflict of interest. We cannot have a leader at the FDA who has worked on behalf of a company that aided and abetted the prescription drug and heroin epidemic. I do not believe Dr. Gottlieb has any place at the FDA.”