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Scott Gottlieb Confirmed as Head of the FDA

Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate hearing on April 5th, 2017.

Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate hearing on April 5th, 2017.

In a 57–42 vote, the Senate confirmed Scott Gottlieb on Tuesday as head the Food and Drug Administration.

Although some Senate Democrats had worried about Gottlieb's ties to the pharmaceutical industry—Washington Senator Patty Murray called his financial entanglements "unprecedented"—his confirmation passed the Senate with relative ease. Gottlieb is a partner at a venture capital firm, New Enterprise Associates, which invests in drugs that may come before the FDA for approval. He promised to recuse himself from weighing in on companies in which he's been involved.

Gottlieb becomes FDA commissioner at a time when the agency's decisions will be closely watched. Most Americans right now are worried about the prices of drugs in the United States, which Gottlieb said he will help lower by accelerating the approval of generic medicines.

President Donald Trump has promised to speed the FDA's approval process, a hotly contested goal, as consumer advocates worry that doing so could lead to riskier medicines getting approved. In addition, advocates are hoping some prescription medicines—including birth control and naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug—will soon earn FDA approval to be sold over-the-counter.