The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Scott Gottlieb as the commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration by a 57 to 42 vote.
A former deputy commissioner at the FDA during the George W. Bush administration, Gottlieb is a former hospitalist and fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. He also has extensive ties with several healthcare companies, including pharmaceutical firms.
While his confirmation was mostly expected, and a handful of Democrats crossed the aisle to vote in favor of his confirmation, concerns about his ties to industry remains an issue for some.
The New York Times notes that during the debate before Tuesday's vote, Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, said that she is unconvinced that Gottlieb will be able to withstand the political pressure from the Trump administration "or that he will be truly committed to putting our families' health first. I've grown increasingly concerned about whether he can lead the FDA in an unbiased way, given his unprecedented industry ties."
Supporters, however, point to his recovery from Hodgkin's lymphoma as evidence that he has an insider's perspective on the healthcare system, Medscape says, adding that supporters also see his experience in the private sector as a strength.
Gottlieb has promised that if confirmed he would divest his investments in healthcare companies, resign from industry positions, and recuse himself from any FDA decisions relating to about 20 companies and institutions for one year, in order to avoid conflicts of interest.