President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is considering a Silicon Valley investor close to billionaire Peter Thiel to head the Food and Drug Administration, according to people familiar with the matter.
Jim O’Neill, the Thiel associate, hasn’t been officially selected, according to the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the decision process is private, and the Trump team could still go in another direction.
O’Neill is a managing director at Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management, and last served in government during the George W. Bush administration as principal associate deputy secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. He’s also a board member of the Seasteading Institute, a Thiel-backed venture to create new societies at sea, away from existing governments.
Faster drug approvals with approval once proven safe and allow people to use at own risk with efficacy work after initial approval
O’Neill also could push the agency in new directions. In a 2014 speech, he said he supported reforming FDA approval rules so that drugs could hit the market after they’ve been proven safe, but without any proof that they worked, something he called “progressive approval.”
“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,” O’Neill said in a speech at an August 2014 conference called Rejuvenation Biotechnology. “Let’s prove efficacy after they’ve been legalized.”
Supports anti-aging and aging reversal medicine
He advocated anti-aging medicine, saying he believed it was scientifically possible to develop treatments that would reverse aging, though the drug industry’s approach to the idea was “long overdue for innovation.”
Would support not regulating 23andme
In the same 2014 speech, O’Neill said that when he was in the HHS he had opposed the FDA regulating some companies, such as 23andMe Inc., that perform complex laboratory-developed tests using mathematical algorithms.
“In order to regulate in this space, FDA had to argue that an algorithm, a series of numbers that match up to things, is a medical device,” he said. “I found that really astonishing — astonishing that someone could say it with a straight face, and astonishing that someone could claim the ability to shut down companies that were never touching a patient but only accurately matching algorithms.”