Pop­u­lar FDA com­mish Scott Got­tlieb has hand­ed in his res­ig­na­tion

In a stun­ning turn of events, FDA com­mis­sion­er Scott Got­tlieb is re­sign­ing from his post and leav­ing of­fice in a mat­ter of weeks.

The Wash­ing­ton Post re­port­ed that Got­tlieb, who’s been com­mut­ing from Con­necti­cut, told ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials that he wants to spend more time with his fam­i­ly.

Got­tlieb ar­rived at the FDA short­ly af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion took of­fice, vow­ing to up­hold the gold stan­dard in drug de­vel­op­ment while do­ing every­thing pos­si­ble to fa­cil­i­tate drug mak­ers’ work — at least for the le­git­i­mate play­ers.

He has been enor­mous­ly pop­u­lar in his short stint, with the vast ma­jor­i­ty of bio­phar­ma ex­ecs ac­claim­ing his work at the agency. He’s al­so been pop­u­lar with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, find­ing a se­cure spot for him­self in an ad­min­is­tra­tion not­ed for rapid turnover.

So what hap­pened here?

Just weeks ago Got­tlieb in­sist­ed on Twit­ter that ru­mors of his pend­ing de­par­ture from the agency were flat wrong. He tweet­ed:

We’ve got a lot im­por­tant pol­i­cy we’ll ad­vance this year. I look for­ward to shar­ing my 2019 strate­gic roadmap soon.

The big ques­tion now is who will re­place him. Trump freaked out many ex­ecs by en­ter­tain­ing Pe­ter Thiel’s push for a lib­er­tar­i­an ap­proach, which would have erased many of the bar­ri­ers to in­tro­duc­ing new drugs — along with the cred­i­bil­i­ty that goes with an FDA sanc­tion. Trump, though, has many open po­si­tions in his ad­min­is­tra­tion, in­clud­ing Cab­i­net-lev­el posts. Stephen Os­troff has tak­en the helm on a strict­ly in­ter­im ba­sis be­fore, but he re­tired last fall, re­placed by Wal­mart ex­ec­u­tive Frank Yian­nas.

Got­tlieb’s let­ter of res­ig­na­tion in­cludes his list of ac­com­plish­ments for the past 23 months, from a record num­ber of new drug ap­provals to their con­tin­ued work on mas­ter­ing new tech­nolo­gies and tak­ing on e-cig­a­rette use by mi­nors.

I’m con­fi­dent that the FDA will con­tin­ue to ad­vance all these ef­forts, and many oth­er goals.

In­dus­try lead­ers quick­ly not­ed the sig­nif­i­cance of the move to­day.

“We’re go­ing to miss him. He was a ter­rif­ic leader of the FDA,” Al­ny­lam CEO and BIO chair­man John Maraganore told me.

“It’s a damn shame,” Tweet­ed long­time se­r­i­al en­tre­pre­neur Mike Gilman, echo­ing the sharp lev­el of dis­ap­point­ment about the news.

 


Im­age: Scott Got­tlieb, com­mis­sion­er of the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA), pos­es for por­trait pho­tographs in front of the old FDA sign at the FDA in White Oak, MD on No­vem­ber 5, 2018 The Wash­ing­ton Post

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RBC Capital Markets recently surveyed investors to take the temperature of the market, a mix of specialists/generalists and long-only/ long-short investment strategies. Heading into the second half of the year, investors mostly see the sector as undervalued (49%), a large change from the first half of the year when only 20% rated it as undervalued. Around 41% of investors now believe that biotech will underperform the S&P500 in the second half of 2021. Despite that view, 54% plan to maintain their position in the market and 41% still plan to increase their holdings.

NYU surgeon transplants an engineered pig kidney into the outside of a brain-dead patient (Joe Carrotta/NYU Langone Health)

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The company said the BLA, which was due for an FDA decision by Dec. 16, was withdrawn “when the window for accelerated approval of balstilimab closed,” thanks to the conversion of Keytruda’s accelerated approval to a full approval four months prior to its PDUFA date.

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Marty Duvall, Oncopeptides CEO

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The FDA had scheduled an adcomm meeting next Thursday to discuss Pepaxto, which first won accelerated approval in February and costs about $19,000 per course of treatment. The committee was to weigh in on whether the confirmatory trial demonstrated a worse overall survival in the treatment arm compared to the control arm.

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David Livingston (Credit: Michael Sazel for CeMM)

Renowned Dana-Far­ber sci­en­tist, men­tor and bio­phar­ma ad­vi­sor David Liv­ingston has died

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One of the senior leaders at Dana-Farber during his nearly half century of work there, Livingston was credited with shedding light on the genes that regulate cell growth, with insights into inherited BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that helped lay the scientific foundation for targeted therapies and earlier detection that have transformed the field.

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David Sabatini (MIT)

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Leen Kawas (L) has resigned as CEO of Athira and will be replaced by COO Mark Litton

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