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Gottlieb's Last Day: FDA Commissioner Returns to Conservative Think Tank

By Steven Porter  
   April 05, 2019

The part-time role will reportedly occupy only about six hours of Gottlieb's time each month, leaving quite a bit of latitude for family time and pondering future endeavors.

Nearly two years after becoming commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, MD, will leave his government post Friday and return to a private-sector role with the American Enterprise Institute.

Gottlieb, who first joined the conservative think tank in 2002, will return to AEI as a resident fellow in health policy studies, the organization said Friday in a statement confirming earlier media reports. Michael Strain, AEI's director of economic policy studies, said the organization is honored to have Gottlieb back.

"All Americans have benefited from his important work at the FDA," Strain said in the statement.

After announcing his resignation last month, Gottlieb expressed confidence in FDA's direction.

"I feel very good about the inflection point that FDA is at right now, stepping away from that," Gottlieb said during a moderated discussion last month at the Brookings Institution, adding that he wouldn't leave if he weren't sure the FDA would continue along its current trajectory of success.

Gottlieb has been vocal about his views on what's ailing the healthcare industry, repeatedly criticizing prescription drug makers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and health plans for their roles in driving drug prices higher. As head of the FDA, he advanced policies to curb cost increases by empowering competitive market forces. To the general public, he may be best known for focusing on tobacco and vaping, especially among teenagers.

In an interview with The New York Times' Sheila Kaplan, Gottlieb said his work for AEI will be part-time, perhaps only about six hours per month. He's not sure what other work he will take on next. Before taking on another full-time workload, he reportedly plans to spend the summer with his family.

Gottlieb, who had several other healthcare-related public-sector positions before his time as the head of the FDA, has been a practicing physician, a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur, an adviser and board member to a drug company, and more, as the Times reported.

Gottlieb will be succeeded as FDA commissioner, for the time being, by Norman E. "Ned" Sharpless, MD, who is currently director of the National Cancer Institute. Sharpless is said to be in the running to serve as Gottlieb's permanent successor.

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Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: DA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, on May 12, 2017. (Photo by Food & Drug Administration)

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