Scott Gottlieb has been confirmed as the new commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration in a Senate vote (of 57 to 42).
The decision, confirmed on 9 May 2017, has not been without controversy, however, as Gottlieb has links to the pharmaceutical industry, where he has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars as an investor in and consultant to pharmaceutical and health companies.
In a statement dated 9 May 2017, Democratic senator Ben Cardin, a member of the US Senate Finance Health Care Sub-committee, said: “Scott Gottlieb’s deep ties to the drug industry are among the primary reasons that I could not support his nomination.
“While he has a strong working knowledge of the FDA and its processes, I could not in good conscience support a nominee who would need to recuse himself from so many issues and cases handled by the agency.”
Others have been supportive. Republican senator Shelley Moore Capito said in a statement: “[Gottlieb] understands the urgent need to combat the country’s opioid epidemic and is ready to join us in that fight.”
Republican senator Lamar Alexander, who is chair of the Senate health committee, said that Gottlieb’s leadership will mean that the FDA can capitalise on the “significant funding” Congress has given to medical research.
Also commenting on the appointment, Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive of industry body, the US Biotechnology Innovation Organization, congratulated Gottlieb on his confirmation, saying he was eminently qualified for the role.