The White House is expected to nominate Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a conservative health policy expert, to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as early as on Friday, sources familiar with the matter said.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gottlieb would be in charge of implementing President Donald Trump's plan to dramatically cut regulations governing food, drugs, cosmetics, dietary supplements and tobacco.
Gottlieb, 44, is now a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a partner at a large venture capital fund. He is also a former FDA deputy commissioner who has frequently advocated a loosening of requirements needed for approval of new medical products.
Gottlieb is well-known on Capitol Hill, where he has testified multiple times on hot-button health issues, including complex drug pricing matters, and is viewed favorably by the pharmaceuticals industry.
A survey conducted by Mizuho Securities USA Inc of 53 pharmaceutical executives found that 72 percent favored Gottlieb over other potential candidates. Many described him as knowledgeable, experienced and balanced.
"He will be a pragmatic leader with an eye toward both expedited approvals and safety," one executive wrote.
Between 2005 and 2007 Gottlieb served as FDA deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs. Prior to that he was a senior advisor to the commissioner and acted as the agency's director of medical policy development.
"Scott knows how the agency works and he will move it forwards, though maybe not always in ways the agency is comfortable with," said John Taylor, a lawyer with the FDA consulting firm Greenleaf Health and a former acting FDA deputy commissioner.
Gottlieb was chosen over Jim O'Neill, a libertarian investor close to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder who now advises Trump on technology and science matters. O'Neill's stated view that drugs should be approved before being proven effective generated widespread alarm.
(Reporting by Toni Clarke; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Meredith Mazzilli)