Elizabeth Warren blasts former FDA commissioner for becoming a member of Pfizer’s board

WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday known as for Scott Gottlieb, who resigned as commissioner of the Meals and Drug Administration in April, to depart Pfizer’s board of administrators.

In a letter, the Massachusetts Democrat applauded Gottlieb’s tenure at FDA however prompt his resolution to affix the drug big “smacks of corruption.”

Gottlieb’s resolution to affix a company he as soon as regulated, Warren wrote, “makes the American individuals rightfully cynical and distrustful about whether or not high-level Trump Administration officers are working for them, or for his or her future company employers.”


Warren is among the many main candidates for her celebration’s presidential nomination in 2020. A lot of her legislative priorities in recent times have fallen underneath FDA’s purview, together with an aggressive invoice aimed toward reducing drug costs and a $100 billion proposal to counter the opioid epidemic.

Gottlieb introduced final week that he would be part of Pfizer’s board starting June 27, sparking fast criticism that the corporate would have unmatched sway with the company that regulates it. The transfer additionally allowed critics of the Trump administration to pounce on the perceived hypocrisy of an official who touted his work to decrease drug prices accepting a management place with the world’s largest pharmaceutical producer.

Gottlieb’s transfer, nevertheless, is typical.

Each FDA commissioner over the previous 38 years has joined the board of a pharmaceutical firm after leaving the company, except David Kessler, who served as commissioner from 1990 to 1997. Robert Califf and Peggy Hamburg, the commissioners who instantly preceded Gottlieb, took posts at Cytokinetics and Alnylam Prescribed drugs, respectively.

In an announcement, Gottlieb mentioned he revered Warren and would reply to her letter “promptly, straight, and privately.”

“Whereas I used to be at FDA, I had a productive relationship with Sen. Warren, working collectively to advance shared public well being targets,” he mentioned.

Regardless of her criticism, Warren’s letter additionally touched on her broad approval for Gottlieb’s accomplishments on the company — uncommon reward for a Trump administration official from a liberal Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate. 

“In contrast to different administration officers who devoted themselves to rolling again public well being and shopper rules, you typically used your tenure to strengthen protections for People,” Warren wrote.

Warren, nevertheless, additionally wrote that Gottlieb is the second high-ranking federal official to depart authorities for trade in latest months. Warren additionally cited John Kelly, President Trump’s former chief of workers, who joined the board of a for-profit firm working a big detention heart for migrant kids in Florida.

Gottlieb additionally instructed STAT final week that he was “happy with the affiliation.”

“I’ve by no means been shy about my perception that America has the very best biopharmaceutical sector on this planet and this sector and its output of useful medicines is one among our nice nationwide achievements,” Gottlieb mentioned in an e-mail. “On the similar time, I’m assured my document at FDA demonstrates I put the general public well being curiosity first and known as balls and strikes primarily based on the science and the general public curiosity.”

Within the letter, Warren additionally touted anti-corruption laws that she mentioned “would shut the revolving door and prohibit big firms like Pfizer from wielding undue affect.”

That invoice would prohibit many personal firms from hiring or paying senior authorities officers within the 4 years following their departure.

Nicholas Florko contributed reporting.