Donald Trump seems to have finally settled on a final selection to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Scott Gottlieb, a former executive of the Big Pharma company GlaxoSmithKline. Gottlieb’s views on the potential repeal of the FDA deeming regulations that threaten to wipe out nearly the entire vaping industry by 2018 are somewhat unclear.
Gottlieb’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry are drawing a considerable amount of attention, both on Capitol Hill and among vaping advocacy groups. Companies like GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson are also the manufacturers and retailers of more conventional nicotine replacement therapies like “the patch” and nicotine gum. They have a lot to gain if the FDA deeming regulations stay in effect.
Scott Gottlieb, Mitch Zeller, and GlaxoSmithKline
Scott Gottlieb is not the only former GlaxoSmithKline staffer to be employed by the FDA. Another former consultant of the Big Pharma company is Mitch Zeller, the current head of the FDAs Center for Tobacco Products and the man largely considered to be the author of the controversial FDA deeming regulations.
Will Gottlieb follow Zeller’s lead and keep deeming regulations that essentially help Big Pharma but hurt vaping? Or will Gottlieb fire Zeller immediately and repeal the regulations altogether? After all, Trump has notoriously stated on several occasions his extreme hatred of what he calls excessive federal regulation, seemingly regardless of the related industry.
New York Times reports $400,000 in ‘payments’ from Big Pharma
In a March 10, 2017 article posted in The New York Times, Gottlieb is receiving high praise from several representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer, a spokesperson for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is quoted in the following statement.
“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.”
And according to the news report, supportive comments like these from Big Pharma agents may be due to Gottlieb’s close professional and financial relationship with key players. Gottlieb has allegedly accepted more than $400,000 in consulting fees and payments from several pharmaceutical companies between 2013 and 2015 alone, including GlaxoSmithKline and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Harvard University Daniel Carpenter is considered an expert on the FDA, and he describes Gottlieb as “the least problematic of a very sorry pool of candidates.” But Carpenter also goes on to say that, if Gottlieb gets the job, “he would be the most interest-conflicted commissioner in American history, by far.”