The Senate voted 57-42 Tuesday to make Dr. Scott Gottlieb the next commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Gottlieb is expected to speed up the approval of new drugs and devices, a process he has called too slow and burdensome. He has also advocated for greater physician autonomy to decide to administer experimental drugs for patients.
In a 2012 issue of the magazine National Affairs, Gottlieb wrote the FDA review "culture" should be changed, adding the agency is "poorly suited to serving the needs of the sickest patients."
But his deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry raised red flags for Democrats concerned it will cause a conflict of interest. Gottlieb has had advisory or financial connections to about 30 drug, diagnostic and device companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, according to a conflict of interest notice released by the Trump administration. He has also worked for companies that have interest in over 120 drugs that are currently being tested.
Gottlieb has agreed to remove himself from agency decisions that involve healthcare companies he previously worked with.
It's Gottlieb's interest in the pharmaceutical industry that makes him a good candidate, some lawmakers argue.
Gottlieb's comments earlier this month during his confirmation hearing also raised alarms. Gottlieb suggested the FDA should consider new clinical trial standards to bring innovative products to the market. This position was panned by researchers concerned new approaches would be dangerous for patients.