After talking to Trump about top FDA job, Balaji Srinivasan erased his barbed criticism of the drug agency
Bitcoin entrepreneur and close Peter Thiel associate Balaji Srinivasan has long enjoyed taking to Twitter to poke the FDA for being too slow at approving new therapies. By his account, the agency was guilty of considerable harm. But late Friday night, after news of his meeting on Thursday with Donald Trump for a top job at the agency spread like digital wildfire, his Twitter stream and FDA commentary all disappeared in the blink of an eye.
Now there’s just one remark on display.
Don't argue on Twitter.
Build the future.
— Balaji S. Srinivasan (@balajis) January 14, 2017
You can still find samples of his thoughts from reporters prescient enough to grab them. Donna Young at S&P Global cited these on Friday:
- “For every thalidomide though, many dead from slowed approvals.”
- “Before the FDA, scientists were able to take insulin from bench to bedside in two years.”
This one could comeback to haunt him:
Srinivasan may not have wanted all of his tweets to come back for public discussion if Trump breaks with tradition and goes with a new commissioner who is not a doctor. Up to now, the smart money in biopharma circles had focused on Scott Gottlieb, who is a physician and has staked out an activist Republican perspective on Twitter and through numerous op-ed pieces.
Srinivasan is also close to Jim O’Neill, another Thiel colleague and FDA contender who famously said at one time that the FDA should allow drugs to be marketed once they had established their safety, letting efficacy get worked out among the patients. And Thiel himself, as Young also reported, has been critical of the FDA for not being more encouraging to anti-aging research.
All three, Srinivasan, O’Neill and Thiel, have backed seasteading, a fringe effort aimed at supporting the development of independent communities at sea — far from any government oversight and bureaucratic entanglements.
One of them may get to see how the same attitude could play out with the authority to run the FDA.
Trump himself remains a regular on Twitter, happy to stake out some controversial positions. He’s already made it clear that he intends to get drugs through the approval process faster. And as of last week’s press conference, you can add an outspoken position on using the federal government to rein in drug prices after pharma companies got “away with murder.”