Trump's potential FDA chief has supported letting patients use drugs 'at their own risk': 7 things to know

President-elect Donald Trump's transition team has indicated Jim O'Neill, managing director at Silicon Valley investment company Mithril Capital Management, is under consideration to head the Food and Drug Administration, according to Bloomberg.

Mr. O'Neill hasn't been officially selected, according to people familiar with the matter, and Trump spokespeople did not respond to Bloomberg for comment.

Here are seven things to know about Mr. O'Neill.

1. Mr. O'Neill is not a physician and does not have the strong scientific background that nearly all of the FDA's former commissioners have possessed in recent years, according to STAT. He is a graduate of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago.

2. He last served in government during the George W. Bush administration as principal associate deputy secretary at HHS. Mr. O'Neill is not well known in Washington, but has been a frequent speaker in the biotech arena, according to STAT.

3. If appointed, Mr. O'Neill could lead the FDA in a new direction. Mr. O'Neill said during a 2014 speech that he supported reforming the FDA approval process so drugs could be introduced to the market faster. He said he supports "progressive approval," meaning physicians could start prescribing new drugs after they've been proven safe but without any proof of their effectiveness, according to Bloomberg.

"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," Mr. O'Neill said in the August 2014 speech at the Rejuvenation Biotechnology conference, according to the report. "Let's prove efficacy after they've been legalized."

4. Mr. O'Neill said during the same 2014 speech that when he was in HHS, he had opposed the regulation of some companies by the FDA that perform complex laboratory-developed tests with mathematical algorithms, according to the report.

"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, according to Bloomberg. "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."

5. Mr. O'Neill has also called for paying organ donors and creating libertarian societies at sea. He is a board member of a venture called Seasteading Institute, which aims to create it's own sea-based floating communities based on the premise that existing governments are ineffective, according to STAT.

"We can all wish that existing governments will somehow stumble into freedom, but if we want to achieve freedom, seasteads are by far the best prospect," Mr. O'Neill said during a speech at a 2009 Seasteading conference. A video of the speech was removed from The Seasteading Institute's website, but it is still available here.

6. He's also indicated he is an advocate for anti-aging medicine, saying he believed it is possible to develop treatments that would reverse aging, though the pharmaceutical industry's approach to the idea was "long overdue for innovation," according to the report.

7. Mr. O'Neill has been close to billionaire investor Peter Thiel for nearly a decade. He first served as a managing director at Clarium Capital, Mr. Thiel's hedge fund that crumbled after the housing market bubble burst. Since 2012, Mr. O'Neill has served as a managing director at Mr. Thiel's late-stage venture firm, Mithril Capital.

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