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Former FDA Commissioner Gottlieb defends decision to join Pfizer board

Key Points
  • Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who stepped down from the regulatory agency in April, defends his joining the board of Pfizer.
  • Pfizer's board members were paid a minimum of $335,000 in stock and cash in 2018.
  • Gottlieb says he is "very proud" of his new role.
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Scott Gottlieb defends his decision to join Pfizer's board

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb defended his decision to join Pfizer's board of directors just two months after stepping down from the agency that regulates the drugmaker. He said in an interview Tuesday on CNBC he feels "very confident" about his record at the FDA and is "very proud" of his new role.

Pfizer last week announced Gottlieb would join its board of directors — a job that paid a minimum of $335,000 in stock and cash in 2018, according to a regulatory filing. At the FDA, Gottlieb called for promoting innovation and increasing competition to lower prescription drug prices.

"I feel very confident about my record at the agency, and I called balls and strikes and acted in the interest of public health and public interest," Gottlieb said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Gottlieb, who is a medical doctor, previously worked in the biotech sector as a venture capitalist. "I've largely returned to my work prior to the FDA," he said.

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Scott Gottlieb on joining Pfizer's board, drug prices, and 'Medicare for All'

Since leaving the agency, Gottlieb has returned to the American Enterprise Institute as a resident fellow and as a special partner at venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, where he worked before joining the FDA. He also joined CNBC as a contributor.

It's not uncommon for government officials to join the sector they regulated after leaving the administration. However, President Donald Trump, who appointed Gottlieb, has made "draining the swamp" one of his main priorities.

"I worked with some large drugmakers before I came into the agency," Gottlieb said, adding that his new role at Pfizer is bigger than anything he did before the FDA. "I made no bones about the fact that I had expertise in life sciences and I made my living trying to promote innovation in this sector prior to coming to the agency."

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor.