FDA Chief Tops Most Influential Physicians List

Marcia Frellick

June 19, 2018

Scott Gottlieb, MD, commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was named number 1 in Modern Healthcare's list of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders 2018.

Dr Scott Gottlieb

The authors noted that critics were at first wary of his nomination to lead the agency because of his consultant ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

However, the authors write, "[H]is work to speed up approval of generics and calls for price transparency have muffled some of those concerns."

At number 2 is Marc Harrison, MD, president/CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. He led the joint venture announced in January 2018 by Intermountain, Ascension, SSM Health, Trinity Health, and the US Department of Veterans Affairs to start their own FDA-approved drug company with the goal of bringing down costs. His efforts to further telehealth were also cited in his selection.

David Feinberg, MD, president and CEO of Danville, Pennsylvania–based Geisinger Health, was named to the number 3 spot again this year. The health system was one of the first this year to link electronic health records with Apple's Health app to increase interoperability. Also, in May, Feinberg announced that Geisinger will sequence DNA for a large number of patients in a move toward improving outcomes.

Rounding out the top 10 were, in order: Craig Samitt, MD, MBA, executive vice president/chief clinical officer for Anthem; Nick Turkal, MD, co-president and co-CEO of Advocate Aurora Healthcare; Stephen Klasko, MD, MBA, president/CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health; Richard Gilfillan, MD, CEO of Trinity Health; John Noseworthy, MD, president/CEO of Mayo Clinic; Troyen Brennan, MD, MPH, chief health officer of CVS Health; and Bechara Choucair, MD, senior vice president/chief community health officer of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals.

Last year's number 1 leader was Tom Price, MD, then-secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Price resigned in September last year amid multiple federal inquiries and growing outrage regarding his spending on private and public planes for travel.

Of this year's top 10, only three were in the top 10 last year: Harrison (no. 10 last year); Feinberg (no. 3 last year); and Noseworthy (no. 2 last year).

Selection is based on a nominee's curriculum vitae or resume, as well as contributions and achievements in executive responsibility, leadership, professional achievement, innovation, and community service. Modern Healthcare readers vote on the top 50 from a ballot of the top 150 nominations compiled by a panel of judges and top editors. A $100 fee is charged for each nomination.

The gender gap evident in the list in years past narrowed this year. Last year and in 2016, only seven women made the top 50. This year, 14 women made the list.

Eric Topol, Medscape's editor-in-chief, made the list again this year, this time at number 32.

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