By Toni Clarke
(Reuters) - U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, considered a potential successor to recently departed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, said on Tuesday he believed he could best serve the Trump administration in his current role.
"I feel like I want to continue to follow through on the policies we've put out and it's where I think I can be most effective," Gottlieb told Reuters in an interview in New York.
He declined to say whether he had been approached about the job by the White House. "I'm not going to get into private discussions I might have had around that," he said.
Gottlieb is one of several potential candidates for the top job at HHS, a post vacated by Price last month following an uproar over his use of private jets for government business.
Other names mentioned by health policy experts include Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Gottlieb has won mostly positive reviews since taking over as FDA commissioner in May. He has introduced policies tackling some of the country's biggest health challenges, including opioid and tobacco addiction and rising prescription drug prices.
The top post at the FDA has always been difficult to fill, Gottlieb noted, and there have been long stretches where the agency has operated under an acting commissioner.
Gottlieb once served as senior adviser to FDA commissioner Mark McClellan, who left the agency in 2004 after just two years to run CMS.
"It's always challenging to move an FDA commissioner," Gottlieb said. "Continuity of leadership there is important."
(Reporting by Toni Clarke; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Bill Rigby)