One of the largest venture capital firms in the world is adding an enviable member to its healthcare investment team: the man who just stepped down as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

New Enterprise Associates – which has locations in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Menlo Park, California, and others – said Wednesday that it had rehired former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb as a special partner. Gottlieb had previously served as venture partner at the firm from 2007 until 2017, when he was appointed as the country’s top drug regulator. He stepped down as FDA commissioner in March, and Ned Sharpless – former director of the National Cancer Institute – currently serves in his place as acting commissioner. Following his resignation, Gottlieb also returned to another prior position, as a fellow at conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute.

Gottlieb returns to NEA with significant experience under his belt that he didn’t have during his previous time at NEA. He oversaw the FDA’s approval of the first CAR-T cell therapies for cancers – Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) and Gilead Sciences’ Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel). On his watch, the FDA also approved the first gene therapy, Spark Therapeutics Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec), and the first RNA-interference therapy, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals’ Onpattro (patisiran).

At AEI, Gottlieb plans to focus on the issue of rising drug costs and what he has called the market failures that are keeping drug prices high. Drug prices were a focus for him as FDA commissioner as well, albeit within the limited scope of his authority to address the issue. While at the agency, he promoted competition as a way for the FDA to play a more active role in combating high drug prices – which is technically outside the agency’s purview – including by promoting more generic and biosimilar competition and publicizing complaints from generic drugmakers about branded drug companies that sought to make it harder to obtain product samples necessary for developing generics.

Photo: Zach Gibson, Getty Images

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