Mar 16, 2017

Scott Gottlieb's biz partner discusses new FDA nominee

Scott Gottlieb (left)(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg, File)

President Trump recently nominated Scott Gottlieb, a venture partner with New Enterprise Associates, to lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This isn't terribly surprising, as we had previously noted that Gottlieb was the front-runner in a process that also included a pair of other folks with venture capital credentials (Jim O'Neill of Peter Thiel's Mithril and former Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan).

Axios spoke with with David Mott, the former MedImmune CEO who now leads NEA's healthcare investing practice, for some thoughts on Gottlieb:

Selling point: Mott argues that Gottlieb was the best person for the job because he has a "360 degree" view of the healthcare system, given that he is a practicing physcian, has worked with healthcare entrepreneurs and investors via NEA, has been a paid consultant to big pharma, has worked in a medical academic institution, has past FDA (and CMS) experience and is a cancer survivor. In short, he understands the pressures each group is under.

On conflicts: "Yes, he's been paid by drug companies and been on startup boards in the past, but he won't be going forward... He will help set direction, but he's not going to be the person overseeing a review, say, of an NEA portfolio company's product." Mott adds that Gottlieb does not have carried interest in NEA funds, and that there already have been discussions of how to manage/sever any other economic ties to NEA (although he declined to provide details).

In general: Mott agrees with many other healthcare VCs that the FDA approval process for both medical devices and pharma has improved substantially over the past several years, and he expects Gottlieb to keep moving such improvements forward. He also is pleased that the GOP healthcare plan (which he has not yet studied in detail) eliminates the so-called "medical device tax," which he believes had a "destructive impact on people's confidence in dedicating time, capital and resources to medical devices."

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