“Everyone depends on the agency, from the drugs in our medicine cabinet to the food on our dinner table, to our blood supplies,” said Dr. David Kessler, who was commissioner of the F.D.A. during the presidencies of the elder George Bush and Bill Clinton. “We are the envy of the world because our honey is our honey. Our foods are not laced with pesticides. Our drugs work.”
Mr. Trump said at the meeting that he was close to naming a “fantastic” person to lead the agency. In addition to Mr. O’Neill, candidates whose names have recently surfaced include Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former F.D.A. official with longstanding ties to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and Dr. Joseph Gulfo, a former biotech and medical device executive.