(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, 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 & Knight's national Healthcare & Life Sciences Team, said 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 said, since 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 said last week, 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 said.
"He leans right, he's got experience in the agency, he’s got the M.D. credential, and he’s outspoken," Gaba said.
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 & 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."
Between 2003 and 2004 Gottlieb was a senior adviser to the FDA commissioner and then the agency’s director of medical policy development. In 2004 he also acted as senior adviser to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
From 2005-2007 he was the FDA's deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs.
Gottlieb has a medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a bachelor's degree in economics from Wesleyan University. He advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a member of the Federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee.
Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis