Balaji Srinivasan, CEO of bitcoin start-up 21.co, may be selected by President-elect Donald Trump to lead the Federal Drug Administration. News reports said Srinivasan is one of the two contenders for the top FDA job, the other being Jim O’Neill, managing director of investment firm Mithril Capital Management.
They were both scheduled to meet with Trump Jan. 12. Both “are being considered for positions in the FDA,” incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on a daily briefing call, according to a Jan. 12 CNBC report.
Srinivasan’s expertise in health regulation stems back to a start-up he co-founded, Counsyl, which offers DNA screening, especially for people considering having children.
Srinivasan has openly criticized the FDA, saying that “big bad pharma does exist, but is only half the story. FDA sets the incentives.”
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and venture capitalist and a Trump transition team member, has relationships with Srinivasan and O’Neill, the CNBC report said, noting that Srinivasan’s 21.co is backed by Thiel.
“It is highly likely that Srinivasan was selected as a contender to lead the FDA by recommendation of Peter Thiel, who previously met with the President-elect to discuss FDA positions,” Cryptocoinsnews.com said in a report Jan. 13.
In early 2016, Srinivasan had openly criticized the FDA last year for its interference with innovative projects pursued by technology conglomerates such as Apple. He revealed, according to the Cryptocoinsnews.com report that Apple CEO Tim Cook was “prevented from launching” health monitoring features of the Apple Watch because Cook believed the FDA would regulate the watch and transform it into a government-licensed health product.
He also reportedly condemned the FDA’s “consistent efforts in limiting innovation” in virtually every field the organization is permitted to oversee.
Transforming healthcare will be a top priority for the incoming administration. Trump has said he would stop the industry from “getting away with murder” in his first post-election press conference last week.