In September 2015, President Obama nominated Robert Califf, MD, a world renowned cardiologist and clinical trial expert, to serve as the next FDA Commissioner. Following his nomination, Dr. Califf received the overwhelming support of a large number of Senators. However, there were also a number of Senators who opposed his nomination, questioning his close ties to pharmaceutical companies and voicing concern over the impact of funding he received for research during his time at Duke University.
Despite receiving some criticism, the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) announced its approval of Dr. Califf on January 12, 2016. Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I – VT), a member of the HELP committee and one of Califf’s opponents, was unable to attend this meeting due to his campaign.
On Tuesday, January26, Sanders joined with Senator Edward J. Markey (D – MA) to announce that they are placing a hold on Dr. Califf to serve as comissioner of the FDA. In a recent press release, Sanders provided his reasoning, stating that it is “because of his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry and lack of commitment to lowering drug prices.”
Although we thought we were nearing the end of this process, it appears as though that is not going to be the case. It will be very interesting to watch as this continues to unfold.