Donald Trump appears to have finally settled on former GlaxoSmithKline consultant Scott Gottlieb as his nominee to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a decision that may threaten the American vaping industry. Gottlieb is a former FDA official of the George W. Bush era with long-standing ties to Big Pharma and the biotech industries. The venture capitalist has reported received more than $400,000 in payments from pharmaceutical companies between 2013 and 2015 alone.
However, there is much more to Gottlieb than meets the eye. In his many press interviews over the years, Dr. Gottlieb has repeatedly taken issue with the Obama-created Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), the newly formed branch of the FDA that is currently headed by Mitch Zeller.
It is Zeller who many believe is primarily responsible for the drafting, implementation, and enforcement of the FDA deeming regulations that threaten to bankrupt the U.S. vaping industry. If confirmed, Gottlieb would hold the power to fire Zeller on the spot, if he so chooses.
But there’s a glitch. Zeller is also a previous political lobbyist and consultant for the Big Pharma company GlaxoSmithKline. Are Zeller and Gottlieb friends or foes?
Gottlieb, GlaxoSmithKline, and vaping
Big Pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, and Squibb are often considered adversaries of the vaping community. Major pharmaceutical companies like these have long held the monopoly on the smoking cessation market as manufacturers of the more conventional nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) like “the patch” and nicotine gum.
As vaping has become increasingly popular over the past decade, sales of Big Pharm NRTs have been in steady decline. And Big Pharma wants to make back their lost earnings. What better way to accomplish this objective than to manipulate the federal government to regulate the entire industry out of existence by way of some creatively contrived FDA deeming regulations?
When President Obama appointed former GlaxoSmithKline employee Mitch Zeller to head the CTP and Jack Henningfield, the owner of the consulting firm through which Zeller was hired by GlaxoSmithKline, to head the Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, this was the first step to achieve this goal. Now we have Gottlieb entering the picture, and according to the New York Times, Gottlieb has reportedly received more than $400,000 in payments from pharmaceutical companies between 2013 and 2015 – including GlaxoSmithKline.
Gottlieb’s controversial Forbes article of 2013
In 2013, Scott Gottlieb wrote a contributing article for Forbes Magazine that many in the vaping community are considering a potentially positive sign that the Trump nominee may be on the side of vaping. The following is one portion of the article that is getting a lot of buzz.
“FDA was to create a path to enable cigarette makers to transition away from smoked tobacco and win government approval of consumable products that used tobacco but presumably harbored less, and perhaps even none of the health risks posed by smoking. When this quid pro quo was pushed through Congress, the industry’s critics and allies each positioned it as a win-win. But it was dependent on FDA being able to establish – and maintain – a regulatory path that let tobacco get approval for new products that posed a ‘reduced harm’ over traditional smoked cigarettes.”
It is Gottlieb statements like these that many in the vaping community feel illustrates how knowledgeable Gottlieb truly is about vaping, electronic cigarettes, and their related health benefits. The fact that he refers to certain people within the federal government as “the anti-tobacco crowd” and “activists” is also very appealing to vapers.
However, this Forbes article was written way back in 2013, and a lot has happened since then. Trump was elected President, another Big Pharma Fan named Tom Price became the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Scott Gottlieb received over $400,000 in wages from companies like GlaxoSmithKline.
Scott Gottlieb may be a quality choice to have the FDA deeming regulations “repealed and replaced” by the Trump Administration at some point in the very near future, but “replaced” with what? That is the more important question.
Article Credit: Matt Rowland