Senate confirms Gottlieb as FDA head; AHRQ gets new director

Scott Gottlieb and Gopal Khanna round out the most recent government hires to head the agencies most important to health IT.
By Jessica Davis
11:01 AM
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FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

With a vote of 57 to 42, the U.S Senate confirmed Scott Gottlieb, MD, on Tuesday as the next commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Gottlieb was most recently associate professor at New York University School of Medicine and served as FDA Deputy Commissioner under President George W. Bush’s administration.

Senate Democrats took issue with Gottlieb for his financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which they saw as conflicts of interest. He’s funded medical startups and served on the boards of five pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline -- one of the largest in the industry.

[Also: Senate grills Trump FDA pick Scott Gottlieb on pharma ties, public health]

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, railed on Gottlieb during his confirmation hearing for his “unprecedented financial entanglements with the industries he would regulate as FDA commissioner.”

Others praised his confirmation, believing his experience in the industry would help him lead the FDA.

“We’re at a critical juncture in the effort to help accelerate the discovery, development and delivery of new cures and treatments, and Scott will be an important ally in that journey,” House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has tapped a new leader, Gopal Khanna, Minnesota’s first statewide chief information officer.

Khanna’s most recent role was the development of a statewide Healthcare and Human Services Innovation Incubator for Illinois, which is a secured data pool from all statewide HHS, other government agencies and open data for a complete view of the patient.

The future of AHRQ has been the topic of debate, as the President’s most recent budget proposed merging the agency with the National Institutes of Health. Khanna’s appointment signals AHRQ will remain an independent agency -- at least for now.

The American Medical Informatics Association praised the hiring of Khanna.

“We’re confident Khanna will provide important strategic direction to AHRQ and its research portfolio,” AMIA President and CEO Douglas B. Frisma, MD, said in a statement. “AMIA looks forward to working with Khanna to ensure the important informatics research AHRQ funds remains core to its mission.”

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com


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