(Reuters)—Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a partner at one of the world’s largest venture capital funds and a former deputy commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is being considered by President-Elect Donald Trump to run the agency, according to sources close to the transition team.
Gottlieb, 44, a venture partner at New Enterprise Associates and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., is well known in health policy circles and is a frequent commentator on television and in print.
Gottlieb is being considered alongside Jim O’Neill, a self-declared libertarian and colleague of Peter Thiel, the co-founder of Mithril Capital Management who was an early Trump supporter and is now advising his transition team. Bloomberg News first reported that Trump was looking at O’Neill.
Trump, a Republican, takes office on Jan. 20.
Michael Gaba, federal policy leader of law firm Holland and Knight’s national Healthcare and Life Sciences Team, says Gottlieb would be more palatable to more people than O’Neill, who believes drugs should be allowed on the market before their efficacy has been established, as long as they are safe.
Even the drug industry would likely oppose that stance, Gaba says, because companies want to be able to make credible claims that their products are effective in treating the diseases they say do.
“They want the FDA’s Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” Gaba says, adding, however, that drug makers would like to provide less data to get it.
Gottlieb would be a more traditional choice than O’Neill and fits the profile of what Trump’s administration seems to be looking for, he says.
“He leans right, he’s got experience in the agency, he’s got the M.D. credential, and he’s outspoken,” Gaba says.
The FDA historically has named someone with medical credentials to head the agency. O’Neill has none, though he served as principal associate deputy secretary of health and human services under the George W. Bush administration.
Gottlieb’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry run deep. He sits on the boards of multiple companies and advises others, including the British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc.
He is also a managing director of investment banking at T.R. Winston and Co., a Los Angeles-based, privately held investment bank that focuses on healthcare, clean energy and consumer technology.
According to its website, the firm provides services to a range of healthcare clients, “including companies engaged in the clinical development of new therapeutic compounds, drug discovery techniques, medical technologies and devices.”