The NWHN Responds to Confirmation of Scott Gottlieb to Head the FDA

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm conservative physician and former Bush official Scott Gottlieb to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a 57-42 vote. The National Women’s Health Network has serious concerns that Gottlieb will prioritize politics and profits over science, as he has done in the past.

The FDA is already the fastest drug approval agency in the world. It has a responsibility to test the safety and efficacy of drugs and devices before they hit the market, not after women are harmed. Numerous examples have demonstrated the real-world consequences of approvals without adequate testing in women, people of color, older people, and more. In 2103, for example, the FDA was forced to cut the approved dose of popular sleep-aid Ambien in half for women after the previously approved dose was shown to contribute to sleep-driving episodes that not only endangered those prescribed Ambien, but also resulted in the deaths of individuals who’d never taken the drug at all. Yet Gottlieb has consistently pushed for faster approvals of under-tested products—accepting millions of dollars from drug and device makers along the way—even when it means skipping the critical clinical trials that uncover serious problems.

Gottlieb has also established himself as a committed opponent of women’s reproductive health. Throughout the 2000s, he defended the Bush Administration’s unprecedented decision to overrule agency scientists on Plan B emergency contraception, argued that women should not have been informed about the dangers of menopause hormone therapy, and fear-mongered against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. During his Senate confirmation hearing this April, Gottlieb refused to answer a direct question from committee vice chair, Senator Patty Murray, when asked, “can you commit to me today that you will not allow [the Trump Administration] to use the FDA to further a political agenda against women’s health?”

In April, the NWHN released a retro-themed social media campaign to spread awareness of Gottlieb’s proposal to roll back consumer protections to a time before the FDA prioritized safety and effectiveness. The campaign highlighted Gottlieb’s multiple financial conflicts, his dangerous proposals to speed up the drug approval process, and his demonstrated disregard for women’s health.

“Scott Gottlieb has a clear record of putting politics and profits over women’s health,” said Cindy Pearson, NWHN Executive Director. “He’s proven that he believes women shouldn’t have the right to know when drugs are ineffective and harmful, or even the right to access reproductive health drugs that are safe and effective, if it harms industry’s bottom line or his party’s right wing agenda. Should he continue this approach as commissioner, we will be there to shine a spotlight on what his agenda means for women.”

For more information about NWHN’s fight to ensure that the FDA prioritizes patient safety over profits or politics visit our website:

The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns, and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory tables.