Health and financial security What's Buzzing

President’s nominee to head the FDA has strong ties to the drug industry

Written by Diane Archer

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.



  • This is what is wrong with our government, instead of unbiased citizens running the various departments for the benefit of the country, and citizens, industry puppets, and insiders are put in place to protect, and promote, the industries they’re supposed to be keeping in line. The foxes are in charge of the hen houses.

    Government isn’t bad, it’s the corrupt scum that unfortunately get into power and do the dirty work to discredit it.

  • This along with the President ‘s support of TTP makes me wonder just what is he thinking in these last years of his final term.

    Both of these are bad decisions as both benefit the corporate sector which values profits over people – TTP with all the concessions and power it hands to corporations power (particularly the ISDS Tribunal provision), and this nomination which potentially will favour big pharma who would like nothing better than to further impede introduction of lower cost generic medications to protect their high profits margins.

    Big Pharma complains about research costs, but they often use the resources and facilities of universities (many of them public). Production is often carried out in poor nations where labour costs are extremely low. Yet, they charge Americans, in particular, extremely high prices for their products while trying to stifle more affordable generic medications though lobbying and negative PR. If Hollywood ever did a remake of “The Graduate”, they’d need to change the “one word” from “Plastics” to “Pharmaceuticals” because that is where the big money is today.

  • The only problem with opposing EVERYONE who has ‘close ties’ to the pharmaceutical industry is that ANYONE who does research or knows much about drugs these days almost MUST have close interactions with the pharmaceutical industry. And having those experiences can ALSO mean that the person knows what kind of nonsense the industry is usually up to, which would be invaluable for someone at FDA. If you don’t know the stuff that they are likely to pull, you may not be able to ferret it out when you need to, unfortunately, when reviewing new drug applications. So don’t be too quick to dismiss such people as FDA employees.

Leave a Comment

Read previous post:
Two tips to help you choose a health plan

During open enrollment season, many of us struggle to figure out which health plan to choose. People typically remain in...