04.27.17

Murray Votes NO on Advancing Trump’s Nominee to Lead FDA: “Dr. Gottlieb’s Entanglements with the Industries He Will be Charged with Overseeing Are Unprecedented”

At Senate HELP Committee markup, Murray says FDA nominee has failed to address serious concerns about whether he is “truly committed to putting families’ health first”

 

Among many, Murray cited concerns about Dr. Gottlieb’s ability to “withstand political pressure” from the Trump Administration

 

Murray has repeatedly pushed for more information from Dr. Gottlieb regarding his potential conflicts of interest—LINK

 

ICYMI – nomination hearing recap: “Dem hammers FDA nominee over ties to healthcare firms” —LINK

 

(Washington, D.C.) – Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, today delivered the following remarks opposing the nomination of Dr. Scott Gottlieb to serve as the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Senator Murray and Democrats have expressed serious concerns about Dr. Gottlieb’s financial entanglements, given his unprecedented history of industry ties.

 

Following his nomination hearing before the HELP Committee nearly three weeks ago, Senators from both sides of the aisle sent questions to Dr. Gottlieb, but they did not receive responses to their questions until this past Sunday. Senator Murray said she was deeply disappointed in the lack of specificity in many of Dr. Gottlieb’s answers and that they did little to address her concerns about whether he is truly committed to putting families’ health first.

 

Senator Murray also cited concerns about whether Dr. Gottlieb will truly prioritize patient and consumer safety and the public’s health over the interests of corporations who stand to gain financially, which includes keeping tobacco out of the hands of children, ensuring a safe and nutritious food supply, and other efforts to protect public health.

 

The Senate HELP Committee voted to advance his nomination and the nomination now moves toward consideration by the full Senate.

 

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“During his nomination hearing, I laid out in detail my concerns about his vision for the FDA; his ability to avoid conflicts of interest given his unprecedented financial entanglements; his ability to withstand political pressure from the Trump Administration in order to ensure science, not ideology, drives decision-making at the FDA; and whether or not he will truly prioritize patient and consumer safety and the public’s health over the interests of corporations who stand to gain financially, which includes keeping tobacco out of the hands of children, ensuring a safe and nutritious food supply, and other efforts to protect public health.”

 

“I have repeatedly stressed the importance of a thorough and complete vetting process for each of President Trump’s nominees…Following his hearing before this Committee, Members from both sides of the aisle sent questions to Dr. Gottlieb, nearly three weeks ago. But we did not receive his responses to our questions until Sunday. I was encouraged that, in his answers to these questions, Dr. Gottlieb committed to upholding the gold standard of FDA approval, and to working on important priorities like improving the post-market surveillance of medical devices. And I plan on holding him to those commitments. But I am deeply disappointed in the lack of specificity in many of Dr. Gottlieb’s other answers. Many of them were vague. And some questions were flat out ignored. Most importantly, his answers did little to address my concerns about whether Dr. Gottlieb is truly committed to putting families’ health first.”

 

“In the limited time this Committee has had to review Dr. Gottlieb’s professional history and background, I have grown increasingly concerned about whether he can lead the FDA in an unbiased way, given his unprecedented industry ties. On numerous occasions, Dr. Gottlieb has invested in or advised a company, and then used his public platform to promote policies that will benefit that company in the future.  I know that, if confirmed, Dr. Gottlieb has agreed to recuse himself for one year from decisions involving some companies in which he’s invested or held positions. But Dr. Gottlieb will be allowed to weigh in on matters involving other companies in which he was previously invested. His complicated relationships with a venture capital firm and an investment bank raise many questions, and he will not be recused from matters involving a number of their clients.  As our Committee research showed, companies that Dr. Gottlieb has invested in have more than 60 drugs in development that could come before the FDA for approval. And the companies that Gottlieb will be recused from have over 120 drugs in development.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

Thank you, Chairman Alexander. And thank you to all my colleagues. Throughout this process, I have made very clear my serious concerns with the nomination of Dr. Gottlieb to serve as FDA Commissioner. 

 

And during his nomination hearing, I laid out in detail my concerns about his vision for the FDA; his ability to avoid conflicts of interest given his unprecedented financial entanglements; his ability to withstand political pressure from the Trump Administration in order to ensure science, not ideology, drives decision-making at the FDA; and whether or not he will truly prioritize patient and consumer safety and the public’s health over the interests of corporations who stand to gain financially, which includes keeping tobacco out of the hands of children, ensuring a safe and nutritious food supply, and other efforts to protect public health.

 

Regrettably, those concerns remain unchanged. And so today, I will be voting NO on advancing his nomination.

 

I have repeatedly stressed the importance of a thorough and complete vetting process for each of President Trump’s nominees.

 

I do appreciate, Mr. Chairman, that you agreed to delay this vote—from yesterday to today—in order to give us some time, at least, to review additional information from Dr. Gottlieb, given his complex financials and his potential for conflicts of interest.

 

And while it shouldn’t have taken this much time to schedule in the first place—this delay also allowed us to be finally briefed by the FBI on its background check of Dr. Gottlieb.

 

But I have to say, all this is a deeply concerning pattern of process corners being cut for President Trump’s nominee’s.

 

Following his hearing before this Committee, Members from both sides of the aisle sent questions to Dr. Gottlieb, nearly three weeks ago. But we did not receive his responses to our questions until Sunday.  

 

I was encouraged that, in his answers to these questions, Dr. Gottlieb committed to upholding the gold standard of FDA approval, and to working on important priorities like improving the post-market surveillance of medical devices.

 

And I plan on holding him to those commitments.

 

But I am deeply disappointed in the lack of specificity in many of Dr. Gottlieb’s other answers. Many of them were vague. And some questions were flat out ignored.

 

Most importantly, his answers did little to address my concerns about whether Dr. Gottlieb is truly committed to putting families’ health first.

 

In the limited time this Committee has had to review Dr. Gottlieb’s professional history and background, I have grown increasingly concerned about whether he can lead the FDA in an unbiased way, given his unprecedented industry ties.

 

On numerous occasions, Dr. Gottlieb has invested in or advised a company, and then used his public platform to promote policies that will benefit that company in the future. 

 

I know that, if confirmed, Dr. Gottlieb has agreed to recuse himself for one year from decisions involving some companies in which he’s invested or held positions. But Dr. Gottlieb will be allowed to weigh in on matters involving other companies in which he was previously invested. 

 

His complicated relationships with a venture capital firm and an investment bank raise many questions, and he will not be recused from matters involving a number of their clients.

 

As our Committee research showed, companies that Dr. Gottlieb has invested in have more than 60 drugs in development that could come before the FDA for approval. And the companies that Gottlieb will be recused from have over 120 drugs in development.

 

Again, the extent of Dr. Gottlieb’s entanglements with the industries he will be charged with overseeing are unprecedented.

 

For all these reasons—I will be opposing this nomination.

 

Thank you.

 

###