Dr. Scott Gottlieb has been sworn in as the 23rd Commissioner of Food and Drugs and is now in charge of running the Food and Drug Administration. While the FDA Commissioner isn’t quite as important to agriculture as the USDA Secretary, the FDA obviously has a connection to food.
So, who is Dr. Gottlieb?
For starters, he is a medical doctor, a cancer survivor, and public health advocate. He has spent much of his career working in the pharmaceutical industry and government on medical and health policy. He has sat on the board of directors for many large drug companies. During the George W. Bush administration, he served as the FDA deputy commissioner. He has also served as a senior adviser to the administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Prior to taking his current post at the FDA, he served on the federal Health IT Policy Committee. (Source: CNN)
Some people expressed concerns about Dr. Gottlieb’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry and how he might have conflicts of interest. Ethics officials have approved Dr. Gottlieb’s plans to divest himself from his medical investments. However, given his impressive resume, and my disdain for conspiracy theories about “Big Pharma,” I don’t see that as a problem at all. In fact, these credentials make Dr. Gottlieb even more qualified for the job because he thoroughly understands the industry, the regulatory process, and the challenges.
Oh, and many will be relieved and happy that, despite some of President Trump’s statements to the contrary, Dr. Gottlieb has absolutely no belief that vaccines and autism are linked.
Unfortunately, Dr. Gottlieb did not get too many questions about agriculture during his Senate confirmation hearing. However, given Dr. Gottlieb’s scientific background, I’m confident that he will be able to serve agriculture in the position. The American Feed Industry Association and the National Turkey Federation agree. Both groups feel that Dr. Gottlieb will be instrumental in implementing the Food Safety and Modernization Act and the Veterinary Feed Directive.
Dr. Gottlieb is certainly a qualified pick for the position and I’m hopeful that he will use his scientific background to support modern agriculture.