President Obama has nominated Dr. Robert Califf, a cardiologist, to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He is currently Deputy Commissioner of the FDA. But, many policymakers and thought leaders believe Dr. Califf is the wrong person for the chief post because of his strong ties to the drug and medical device industries.
As a researcher at Duke University, Dr. Califf took millions of dollars from the big drug companies. The majority of the funding for his research center came from the drug industry. And, Dr. Califf also received substantial payments from drug companies to consult for them and to cover his salary. Of additional concern, Dr. Califf has removed his name as co-author of a number of papers critiquing the FDA for its oversight of clinical trials.
Dr. Califf’s nomination as head of the FDA is “bad news for patients and public health,” according to Dr. Michael Carome, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. He urges the Senate to reject Dr. Califf for the FDA post. Dr. Carome argues that the FDA has never been and should not now be headed by an individual with such close ties to the medical device and drug industries as Dr. Califf.
The head of the Food and Drug Administration is charged with overseeing the safety and efficacy of drugs and devices in the United States. We need an independent FDA chief to protect the public health.
Senator Bernie Sanders has stated that he will oppose Dr. Califf’s appointment as head of the FDA.