A Great Choice for FDA

by Yuval Levin

The Wall Street Journal brings news that President Trump and HHS Secretary Price have chosen to nominate Scott Gottlieb to be the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. They have chosen very well. 

Gottlieb is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a physician, and a thoughtful student of the intersection of medicine and government in America. I’ve had the privilege to work with him on a number of projects in recent years—including one on how to replace Obamacare that might be of interest to congressional Republicans these days. But I first got to know him when he was a senior official in the Bush administration, first as a policy advisor at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and then as deputy commissioner of the FDA. 

Gottlieb is the epitome of a constructive critic of the agency he has been nominated to lead. He knows how valuable the FDA’s work is, but he also knows it could do a much better job of enabling more and faster medical innovation while keeping the public safe. 

More important, he knows how it could do a better job. In a 2012 essay in my favorite quarterly magazine, he laid out his views of the agency’s strengths and weaknesses, focusing on its professional culture as a source of both. There and in the huge amount of other research and writing he has done on the agency over the past few years, he displays a deep and balanced understanding of just what kind of reform and what sort of deregulation might be needed. 

Here’s hoping the Senate has the good sense to get him confirmed swiftly.

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