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Scott Gottlieb

Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

Scott Gottlieb is a medical doctor with a “web of big pharma ties” and has been a fixture in conservative politics for years. Prior to joining the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Gottlieb was a fellow at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute for over a decade. Gottlieb also previously served at the FDA during the Bush administration.  

HOW THEIR ROLE AFFECTS ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has broad regulatory authority over birth control and contraceptive medications and devices, including the introduction of new products and the ability to make existing ones generic or over the counter. Under his watch, a longstanding contract for fetal tissue — used for lifesaving research — was cancelled at the behest of virulent, anti-abortion special interest groups.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT OF NOTE

Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, 2007 – 2017

Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs, FDA, 2005 – 2007

Director of Medical Policy Development, FDA, 2004

Senior Adviser to the Commissioner for Medical Technology, FDA, 2003 – 2004

TIES TO OTHER ANTI-CHOICE EXTREMISTS

American Enterprise Institute (AEI):

AEI scholars often take anti-abortion views in their writing, including smearing Senator Kamala Harris’s line of questioning to Brett Kavanaugh about contraception and praising Donald Trump for his vehemently anti-abortion policy positions.

HIGHLIGHTS

Gottlieb Argued That Heavily Edited Planned Parenthood Videos “Provide Inarguable Proof That Current Laws Governing The Fetal-Tissue Trade Don’t Work":

Scott Gottlieb wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Disturbing videos that show Planned Parenthood personnel casually discussing the sale of fetal organs from abortions have caused widespread outrage. As each new video is released, the calls for Congress to cut Planned Parenthood’s federal funding grow stronger. No matter where you stand in that debate, the videos provide unarguable proof that current laws governing the fetal-tissue trade don’t work. Congress must tighten them.” [Scott Gottlieb Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal, 8/25/15]

For Over A Decade, Gottlieb Was A Fellow At The Right Wing American Enterprise Institute:

“Gottlieb is a political conservative and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he has focused his research on the FDA and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.” [NPR, 3/10/17]

THE WHOLE STORY

Scott Gottlieb Repeatedly Criticized The Affordable Care Act Birth Control Mandate, Calling It “ObamaCare’s Most Significant Flaw”

Gottlieb Heavily Criticized The Obama Administrations Moves To Protect Birth Control Coverage For Health Insurance

Gottlieb Criticized The Birth Control Mandate In Obamacare Saying It’s An Example Of “The Way That Washington Tries To Force Consumers To Submit To Its Judgment About What Should Or Shouldn’t Be Included In Your Coverage.” Scott Gottlieb wrote in an op-ed in Forbes, “The mandate that health plans must fully cover any form of contraception gets to the very heart of how Obamacare centralizes judgment about healthcare options, and tries to establish a universal convention when it comes to the practice of medicine. Obamacare pushes these decisions into the hands of unaccountable boards, all but ensuring that these considerations will be the stuff of politics indefinitely. The regulations that these boards establish don’t only apply to Obamacare plans, but any private health insurance that consumers buy. The benefits they mandate will be important to some people. The problem is with the way that Washington tries to force consumers to submit to its judgment about what should or shouldn’t be included in your coverage. The requirement that health plans must cover contraception and surgical sterilization falls under this framework.” [Scott Gottlieb Op-Ed, Forbes, 1/6/14]

Gottlieb: “Offended By President Obama’s Decision To Force Health Insurers To Pay For Contraception And Surgical Sterilization? It Gets Worse.” Scott Gottlieb wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Offended by President Obama's decision to force health insurers to pay for contraception and surgical sterilization? It gets worse: In the future, thanks to Obamacare, the government will issue such health edicts on a routine basis—and largely insulated from public view. This goes beyond contraception to cancer screenings, the use of common drugs like aspirin, and much more.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/16/12]

Gottlieb Said That Coverage Mandates Were “ObamaCare’s Most Significant Flaw.” Scott Gottlieb wrote in a Forbes op-ed, “In creating a market for health plans, and subsidies to buy them, the architects of Obamacare couldn’t resist tinkering with the ultimate product. They were captured by a political impulse to tightly manage decisions about the items that health plans would need to cover. Rather than leaving these decisions to state regulators, health plans, and the collective action of consumer demand; committees were formed in Washington to design lists of what benefits must be included in the coverage, and those things that are expendable. The usual thing happened. Advocacy groups and businesses lobbied for rules that would force inclusion of their favored products and services. Political activists gained control the process. This became ObamaCare’s most significant flaw.” [Scott Gottlieb Op-Ed, Forbes, 2/3/14]

Gottlieb Argued That Congress Should Let Insurance Companies Decide What Treatments Are Covered And That “President Obama’s Decision On Birth Control Isn’t A One-Off Political Intervention But The Initial Exploit Of An Elaborate New System.” Scott Gottlieb wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Better still, Congress could let private health plans—and their members—decide on their own how preventive tests and treatments should be covered. If not, Americans will soon be surprised by all the important tests and treatments that become more costly, and all the less relevant stuff that's suddenly free. It's all a reminder that President Obama's decision on contraception isn't a one-off political intervention but the initial exploit of an elaborate new system.” [Wall Street Journal, 2/16/12]

…And Advised Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker On His Health Care Proposal That Would Have Eliminated Coverage Mandates

Gottlieb Advised Governor Scott Walker On His Obamacare Replacement Health Care Plan. Scott Gottlieb wrote in a Forbes op-ed, “As my American Enterprise Institute colleague Ramesh Ponnuru noted, the similarity between the Bush Plan and an earlier proposal released by Governor Scott Walker (which I advised on) is reflective of a basic architecture that is starting to form the blueprint for how conservatives can implement a market-based alternative to Obamacare.” [Scott Gottlieb Op-Ed, Forbes, 10/14/15]

  • Walker’s Health Care Plan Would Eliminate Health Plan Requirements In Obamacare. Walker “also calls for increasing how much can be placed in a health savings account tax-free and eliminating the health plan requirements set in law, returning to the old system of letting state regulators set the guidelines for health plans.” [CNN, 8/18/15]

Gottlieb, A Medical Doctor, Has Parroted Anti-Abortion Talking Points To Devalue Lifesaving Scientific Research

Gottlieb Used Anti-Abortion Groups’ Heavily Edited Videos Attacking Planned Parenthood To Call For A Law Restricting Vital Fetal Tissue Research

Gottlieb Pointed To The Misleading Planned Parenthood Videos To Argue That Fetal Tissue Is Unnecessary For Research And The Laws That Govern It Don’t Work…

Gottlieb Argued That The Planned Parenthood Videos “Provide Inarguable Proof That Current Laws Governing The Fetal-Tissue Trade Don’t Work.” Scott Gottlieb wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Disturbing videos that show Planned Parenthood personnel casually discussing the sale of fetal organs from abortions have caused widespread outrage. As each new video is released, the calls for Congress to cut Planned Parenthood’s federal funding grow stronger. No matter where you stand in that debate, the videos provide unarguable proof that current laws governing the fetal-tissue trade don’t work. Congress must tighten them.” [Scott Gottlieb Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal, 8/25/15]

Gottlieb Wrote That “Defenders Of Planned Parenthood” That Say That Fetal Tissue Is Essential And Saves Lives “Distort The Facts” Since “Research Directly Using Fetal Tissue Is Uncommon.” Scott Gottlieb wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Defenders of Planned Parenthood also assert that medical research using fetal tissue is essential and saves many lives. But that argument distorts the facts. Research directly using fetal tissue is uncommon. At Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, only about 10 of 8,000 active research protocols involve fetal tissue, according to an official there. By my count, from 1993 to 2014 the NIH funded only 30 grants involving fetal tissue transplant, out of hundreds of thousands of total grants—about 10,000 are awarded every year. Instead researchers generally use fetal tissue as a source of stem cells, which can be coaxed into many different kinds of tissue and are thus valuable for cell-based therapeutic research. But even work with fetal stem cells comprises a tiny subset of research. Most such studies involve either embryonic stem cells—often derived from embryos developed for in vitro fertilization that go unused and are then donated—or adult stem cells that have been derived from normal adult tissue. A search of PubMed for studies published in the past five years returns 10,000 articles related to 'embryonic stem cells'; 5,500 related to search strings for adult stem cells; and fewer than 200 articles related to 'fetal stem cells.'” [Scott Gottlieb Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal, 8/25/15]

…And Criticized A California Vote To Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research As “Dumb Money”

2004: Gottlieb Criticized A Vote In California To Fund Embryonic Stem Cell Research As “Dumb Money” Spurred By Democrats “Preying On People’s Desire For Cures To Debilitative Diseases.” “Given his conservative bent, this is assuredly not Gottlieb’s wish. He has decried the effect of politics on drug development. In the run-up to last November’s vote in California to funnel $3 billion in taxpayer dollars to embryonic stem-cell research, Gottlieb called the outlay 'dumb money' spurred by Democrats exploiting a wedge issue and 'preying on people’s desire for cures to debilitating diseases.' (He also poured cold water on the hype, saying 'it’s just not apparent that messing around with embryonic stem cells and all their associated ethical baggage is all that necessary' because of advances with adult stem cell research.)” [The Daily Deal, 9/12/05]

Gottlieb Said That Scientists “Personal Views Supporting Abortion” Have “Infected Every Aspect” Of The Debate Over Human Cloning

Gottlieb Wrote That “Most Scientists Can’t See Beyond Their Politics, And Their Personal Views Supporting Abortion, Which Have Infected Every Aspect” Of The Debates About Human Cloning. “Fukuyama believes some things should be banned outright, like the cloning of people, which he regards as immoral in itself and as the opener for worse things, like enhancing human qualities by germ-line genetic engineering. He doubts the ability of national commissions to address the problems raised by biotechnology, calling instead for legislation and 'institutions with real enforcement powers.' His interest is more than academic. He has President Bush’s ear as a member of his Council on Bioethics, and Mr. Fukuyama’s views prevail in Washington. Legislation seems inevitable. Whatever its merits, it would be better if scientists could voluntarily adopt these restrictions on their own. But all the scientists have managed so far are a few public protests like those full-page advertisements, signed by 40 Nobel Laureates, in the New York Times. In the end, most scientists can’t see beyond their politics, and their personal views supporting abortion, which have infected every aspect of these debates, to realize the public faith is at stake.” [Scott Gottlieb Op-Ed, New York Sun, 5/1/02 [via AEI]

As Deputy Commissioner in 2005, Gottlieb Defended The FDA After They Were Accused Of Delaying A Decision On ‘Plan B’ And Disregarding Scientific Conclusions

As FDA Deputy Commissioner, Gottlieb Disputed Charges That The FDA Let Politics Interfere With Its Decision To Delay A Ruling On ‘Plan B’ For Over-The-Counter Use. “The Food and Drug Administration may need months to review public comments on Barr Pharmaceuticals’ application to sell the Plan B ‘morning after’ contraceptive without a prescription, an FDA official said. The agency received thousands of comments after it indefinitely postponed a ruling on Plan B in August and asked for public input, said Scott Gottlieb, FDA deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs. Gottlieb disputed charges that the FDA let politics interfere with science when it delayed a ruling on Plan B. Conservative groups lobbied heavily against over-the-counter sales, which many women’s and medical groups supported. An FDA advisory panel recommended allowing over-the-counter sales in December 2003.” [The Star-Ledger, 11/9/05]

The Head Of The FDA’s Office Of Women’s Health, Susan Wood, Resigned From Her Post After The FDA Delayed Its Decision On Plan B, Stating That The Review Process Disregarded Scientific Safety Conclusions. “Last month, Susan Wood resigned from her post as head of the Office of Women’s Health after Crawford said he was again delaying a decision on whether to approve the emergency contraceptive Plan B for over-the-counter use. She said that Crawford disregarded the scientific conclusions reached by FDA reviewers that found the drug could safely be sold without a prescription. She said morale in the agency is suffering because the review process is being politicized. In the case of the Plan B announcement, Wood said during a recent public radio appearance, the Women’s Health Office and agency reviewers were notified of FDA’s decision just before the press was notified. The 11-hour legal questions raised by the administration, she added, came as a major surprise to those who had reviewed the application for months.” [FDA Week, 10/7/05]