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STAT News Tangled Treatment of Scott Gottlieb

2017-03-29 | Robert Goldberg
STAT News is one of my favorite sites for medical and health news.   The reporting is great and the journalists are open, thoughtful and smart.   

Every once in a while there will be clunker like the following article about Scott Gottlieb:

Trump’s FDA nominee pledges to untangle his ties to 25 biopharma companies

"President Trump’s pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration has promised to recuse himself from agency decisions on more than 25 companies to which he has ties.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who is deeply entrenched in the industry he may soon regulate, plans to resign from his roles in investment banking, venture capital, and as a consultant to drug companies within 90 days of his Senate confirmation. At the same time, he’ll sell off his shares in a host of biotech companies.

And for one year after those resignations, Gottlieb will stay out of any FDA deliberations related to those companies, which include GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals."

Deeply entrenched?  Untangling of ties?  From 25 -- count em, 25 -- companies? Sounds suspicious.  Should we ask Carrie Matheson to get to the bottom of Gottlieb's consulting activities?  

A less breathless and narrative driven article could have noted that Scott's recusals and divesting of industry related investments and associations are no different than what any other nominee for FDA commissioner has done, including Rob Califf and Peggy Hamburg.   And no one was keeping score of how many companies they consulted for or held stock in.  Or that Gottlieb has made increasing the number of generic drugs that compete against medicines made by companies he advised a top priority? 

To be fair,  when I wrote to STAT News editor Rebecca Robbins raising my belief that the article was more narrative than reporting she responded that the intent was not to reinforce a narrative peddled those who regard Dr. Gottlieb as a pharma pawn.  

But there is this as well: "The 44-year-old physician has traced an unusual career path, pivoting from Wall Street to a role at the FDA and then embarking on a lucrative career as an investor and adviser." 

Who else thinks that this article will spur more attacks and spawn similar pieces from other news outlets that will include quotes from anti-industry critics such as Public Citizen who have already smeared Scott?