FDA pick faces questioning on ties to industry he'd regulate

Dr. Scott Gottlieb left is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. A White House official says President Donald Trump is choosing Gottlieb a conservative doctor-turned-pundit with deep ties to Wall Street and the

Democrats on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, questioned whether Gottlieb's ties to the pharmaceutical industry would compromise his ability to act impartially. But he has generally supported the agency's mission of ensuring that prescription drugs and medical devices are safe and effective. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Critics have focused on Gottlieb's financial entanglements, citing government data showing he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting or other fees from several FDA-regulated companies in recent years.

In an ethics disclosure form filed last month Gottlieb said he would resign from multiple corporate boards, divest his healthcare company holdings and resign from the company boards he sits on.

Gottlieb is a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, holds positions in a venture capital firm and an investment bank, and serves as a board member or consultant to nine health-related companies, the AP reported. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., as he arrives for his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 5, 2017.

If approved by the committee Gottlieb's nomination will go to the Senate floor for a full vote. "People's lives are literally on the line when it comes to the decisions FDA makes, its oversight, and its enforcement of Congress's laws". When asked if he opposes importing cheaper drugs from foreign countries, he said, "I can tell you I have a lot of ideas that I want to work on right away on how I think we can get more product competition onto the market".

Gottlieb said the question of whether vaccines cause autism "is one of the most exhaustively studied issues in medicine" and that there is no causal link between vaccines and autism. Pressed on e-cigarettes that increasingly come with kid-friendly flavors like gummy bears, Gottlieb said vaping has a role in helping established smokers quit but that with the flavorings, "I recognize there is a line here somewhere and I don't know where that line gets drawn".

-As for FDA's food side, Gottlieb deferred questions about advice on seafood consumption during pregnancy, genetically engineered salmon and new nutrition labels set for next year, saying he needed to hear from FDA's scientists and staff.



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