Gottlieb would rather stay at FDA – and pharma would agree

After Tom Price reached for the ejector seat two weeks ago after a scandal involving private jet use, Donald Trump has been looking for a new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The number one name in the frame is Scott Gottlieb, and the FDA Commissioner has just commented on rumours that he could fill the role.

Speaking to Reuters yesterday, Gottlieb said: “I feel like I want to continue to follow through on the policies we’ve put out and it’s where I think I can be most effective.”

He demurred on whether he had been approached about the job by the White House, however, saying: “I’m not going to get into private discussions I might have had around that.”

The HHS post is very much a hot seat, as the job would involve implementing any healthcare overhaul Trump and the Republicans succeed in introducing – and indeed helping to cheerlead for the repeal or replacement of Obamacare.

However, given that the Republicans have spectacularly failed to pass any legislation, a future HHS secretary could see their remit over the rest of this presidential term limited.

Gottlieb might also be forgiven for not wanting to take up the role, given its highly politicised position.

Having already set to work at reforming the FDA at great speed with anti-red tape policies across the board, there is no reason to doubt that Gottlieb wants to stay on and finish the job.

From the pharma and biotech perspective, the industry are delighted with Gottlieb’s approach so far, and would be very disappointed to see him moved on just five months into the role.

This is despite Gottlieb looking to eliminate barriers to new complex generics and biosimilars, with a view to cutting down costs for patients and healthcare payers.

A number of other names have been mentioned in connection with the vacancy, including Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

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