Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb joined pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer’s board of directors on June 27, after stepping down from the FDA in April.
During his brief two-year tenure as commissioner, Gottlieb was dedicated to enacting numerous new policies for the government administration. He decreased the time the FDA took to approve new treatment options such as generic drugs or biosimilars — which are copies of complex and expensive prescription drugs manufactured by other companies. He also played an important factor during the Trump administration’s actions of lowering drug prices.
Gottlieb’s appointment hopes to reverse Pfizer’s decision to raise the price of 41 drugs earlier this year.
David Gortler, a professor of pharmacology, former FDA official and Pfizer employee, said he had nothing but high praise for Gottlieb, believing that he is an excellent choice for the position.
“This guy is kind of a hero,” Gortler said. “Scott has lead an exemplary and fruitful career during his many years at the FDA, including as the FDA's commissioner … I applaud his addition on Pfizer's board, and look forward to more things from Scott. His background in pharmaceutical industry, academia and the FDA and the American Enterprise Institute gives him the ideal pedigree for serving at one of the world's largest and best drug companies.”
There are some ethical concerns with Gottlieb’s new position as the former FDA head.
Gortler explained that FDA employees were permitted a certain level of confidential information, and there were common fears that Gottlieb could leak some of that info to other Pfizer board members.
Gortler, however, is confident that this will not be the case, as both he and Gottlieb signed “lengthy” paperwork after leaving the FDA promising to keep this information secure.
Gottlieb is permitted to share helpful advice he learned as commissioner to the Pfizer executives, which Gortler believes is a great way to improve the overall communication of the company.
“I think the fact that he can go to a company and give them some knowledge on how to do something more efficiently or otherwise better … is terrific,” Gortler said. “There should be more communication between private [industries] and the FDA. There’s so much regulation that people get lost. I think it should not only be commissioners that go [to Pfizer], but other [employees] from other divisions and departments, as well.”
Pfizer Executive chairman and former CEO Ian Reid released a statement on how excited the industry is to have Gottlieb as a new addition.
“We are fortunate to have Dr. Gottlieb join Pfizer’s Board of Directors,” Reid said. “Scott’s expertise in health care, public policy and the industry will be an asset to our company and enable our shareholders to continue to benefit from a board representing a balance of experience, competencies and perspectives.”