The Senate confirmed Dr. Scott Gottlieb to lead the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday.
Gottlieb was confirmed in a 57-42 vote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., applauded the confirmation on Twitter. "As a practicing physician with significant policy experience, Dr. Gottlieb has all of the necessary qualifications to lead the FDA," he wrote.
In the following tweet, he said the FDA would help tackle the opioid epidemic.
"Dr. Gottlieb is the right person to lead this charge," he wrote.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement that he looked forward to working with Gottlieb to "promote policies that accelerate innovation at such an exciting time and bring forward solutions to our nation's public health challenges."
The confirmation also was welcomed by industry groups. In a statement, Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, called Gottlieb "eminently qualified."
"The opportunities facing the agency today are tremendous," he said. "We are confident that Dr. Gottlieb's confirmation will provide the agency with the stability and leadership needed to fully harness the tools of modern drug development and to better incorporate patients' perspectives into the agency's regulatory processes."
But Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., blasted the vote, calling it "the wrong choice" because of Gottlieb's financial ties to the industry.
"Commissioner Gottlieb has pushed for the FDA to loosen regulations and speed up the approval of new drugs, but the FDA is already playing fast and loose with the rules," she said in a statement. "When the health and safety of American families is on the line, we cannot afford to diminish already weak regulations."
During his confirmation hearing, Gottlieb faced questions about his ties to drug companies, his position on policies to control drug spending and his stance on regulations regarding medical testing. The FDA oversees the safety and effectiveness of drugs, medical devices and food and tobacco products.
Gottlieb previously served as an FDA deputy commissioner under former President George W. Bush, and worked at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Before accepting the FDA nomination, he was a resident scholar for the conservative American Enterprise Institute and has been a consultant for drug companies. He vowed in ethics documents to recuse himself from any issues that might pose conflict of interest.