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Scott Gottlieb: The Patient's FDA Commissioner

2017-03-14 | Robert Goldberg

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

I have worked with Scott Gottlieb for over a decade on making drug development swifter by making it more scientific and increasing patient access to medical innovations.   Scott played an important role in developing the Critical Path Initiative that has been the FDA's roadmap for moving the agency -- and our health care system -- towards predictive, personalized and participatory medicine.  None of the advances in expediting approval of important new medicines would have been possible in the absence of The Critical Path Initiative. 

I could discuss his accomplishments in the post.  But many others will write about Scott's ability and experience in support of his nomination to be FDA commissioner.  A handful will attempt to demonize him for that very experience.  

So let me tell you what I know about the human being who has been nominated to be FDA commissioner. 

 I know of Scott's calm courage after his cancer diagnosis, his devotion to his family and his dedication to the practice of medicine.  For years (until he had children) he was an internist and hospitalist, seeing and healing patients on weekend, evenings and holidays, all the while performing his duties at FDA and CMS.   He loves medicine and that emotion shapes his view about how to best use advances in science to improve the safety and effectiveness of medical technologies.    He is not an ideologue.  He is data-driven and his views and decisions are informed by the kind of robust discussion and debate that is increasingly rare in our public sphere.  

Finally, Scott has never let the intricacies of policy or statistical hair splitting deter him from thinking about the FDA as an institution that has more control over life and death -- as well as how well we live -- than any other agency on earth.   He knows that patients and their families have as much a right to weigh in on FDA decisions as any so-called expert.  The great medical reformer, William Osler once noted: "The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease."  

Scott is a great physician and will be a great FDA commissioner who puts patients first.