The transition team for President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly exploring an unusual pick to run the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Sources told Bloomberg, who first reported this news on Wednesday that Jim O’Neill is under consideration for leading the regulatory agency.
He works as the managing director for Mithril Capital Management, a late-stage venture firm owned by prominent Trump supporter Peter Thiel, the controversial co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook. Also, O’Neill sits on the board of the Thiel-supported organization called the Seasteading Institute, which wants to construct societies at sea operating away from the federal government.
This choice would be a departure from previous nominees because the head of the FDA for the past five decades has either been a prominent scientific researcher or trained physician, according to Bloomberg.
O’Neill doesn’t have a medical background, but did work at the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services in different capacities during George W. Bush’s presidency.
The Future of the FDA
Trump’s transition website mentions he intends to reform the Food and Drug Administration by putting a, “greater focus on the need of patients for new and innovative medical products.”
No specific details were given explaining what these proposed reforms would entail, but a video from 2014 could indicate the direction O’Neill could take the agency in.
He gave a speech at the Rejuvenation Biotechnology conference that essentially proposed weakening the agency’s regulatory authority, wrote Forbes.
He suggests having the FDA make companies prove drugs are safe instead of being effective before they are sold on the market.
“We should reform FDA so there is approving drugs after their sponsors have demonstrated safety–and let people start using them, at their own risk, but not much risk of safety. Let’s prove efficacy after they’ve been legalized,” he said in the video.
Also, he gave a speech at a 2009 conference focused on building sea colonies where he offered a system where organ donors should receive payment for transplants.
This isn’t a finalized choice yet especially since this position requires Senate confirmation. Also, sources working on the transition told Bloomberg Trump could go in a different direction and offer O’Neill another job in his cabinet.
There is also another rumored contender for the job. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA deputy commissioner with experience in advising president candidates like Scott Walker on healthcare issues, could be selected for the role, reported STAT.
You can watch the video of his 2014 keynote below.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery