Washington (May 9, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement today after voting in opposition to the nomination of Dr. Scott Gottlieb to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We are suffering a deadly opioid epidemic because the FDA approved dangerous and addictive painkillers, Big Pharma zealously pushed them, and doctors prescribed them with abandon. With close and questionable ties to dozens of big pharmaceuticals companies, I have little faith that Dr. Gottlieb will do what is necessary as the leader of the FDA to end this vicious cycle of opioid addiction.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration is our prescription drug cop-on-the-beat, but Dr. Scott Gottlieb wants to transfer that role to ineffective bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services.
“At the same time, Dr. Gottlieb has also publicly stated his opposition to the FDA’s risk plans that are used to address the safety of opioid painkillers. These vital tools should be made stronger, but Dr. Gottlieb argues that they shouldn’t exist at all.
“Dr. Gottlieb’s Big Pharma formula is simple: Take away DEA oversight over prescription opioids and at the same time, limit the FDA’s ability to utilize its full oversight authority over these addictive products. With the overwhelming majority of heroin users reporting that their addiction began with prescription opioids, it is simply irresponsible that Dr. Gottlieb believes that drug safety doesn’t need strong oversight from both the FDA and DEA.
“Sadly, Dr. Gottlieb is yet another example of President’ Trump’s lack of commitment to realistically address the opioid crisis. By working to repeal the Affordable Care Act, proposing to slash the NIH and ONDCP budgets, and promoting construction of a border wall, President Trump would only make the opioid crisis worse.”
Earlier this month, Senator Markey sent a letter to Dr. Gottlieb requesting details about the nature of the work and financial relationship he had with fentanyl manufacturer Cephalon, a pharmaceutical company was under federal investigation for pushing doctors to prescribe the addictive painkiller for headaches and back pain when it was meant for late-stage cancer patients. A Washington Post story reported that Dr. Gottlieb advocated on behalf of Cephalon while he was previously employed at the FDA, in an attempt to increase the amount of fentanyl the manufacturer could produce. Ultimately, the DEA denied the request, finding that Cephalon and the FDA had no basis for this increased allotment.