- Pharma giant Pfizer on Thursday named former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to its board of directors, less than three months after he left his post at the agency.
- Since departing the FDA, Gottlieb has also rejoined the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, and New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm, both organizations he worked at before becoming FDA chief.
- Former commissioners frequently join industry boards following their tenure at the FDA. Robert Califf, Gottlieb's immediate predecessor, serves on the board of Cytokinetics, a small biotech developing drugs for neuromuscular and heart diseases.
While past FDA chiefs have joined drugmaker boards following their tenure, Gottlieb's move to Pfizer is both rapid and more high-profile than that of past commissioners.
Companies like Cytokinetics or Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which Margaret Hamburg joined in 2018 three years after leaving the FDA, are smaller and less influential than Pfizer, the second largest U.S. drugmaker by market value following Johnson & Johnson.
Mark McClellan, who served as FDA head from 2002 to 2004, currently sits on J&J's board, but his appointment came nearly a decade after his time at the regulator.
Notably, David Kessler, FDA head from 1990 to 1997, appears to be the only former commissioner to have not joined a drugmaker board of directors.
While leading the FDA, Gottlieb oversaw record numbers of branded and generic drug approvals, earning him positive reviews from industry. He also was supportive of newer technologies, such as cell and gene therapy, and involved himself in the agency's work keeping current with the fast-moving fields.
Still, Gottlieb was more publicly outspoken than other FDA commissioners before him, calling out drugmakers for specific abuses and publicly engaging on drug pricing, which is largely outside the FDA's authority.