Marisa Fernandez, Axios and Yahoo News: November 15, 2021
It’s taken about 10 months for President Biden to name a nominee for the role of permanent FDA commissioner — former FDA chief Robert Califf — and it’s unlikely his confirmation will be complete before the end of 2021.
Why it matters: The agency has been without a Senate-approved commissioner for nearly a year, all while playing a central role in the response to the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The selection of the former commissioner came after the White House dropped several prior candidates, including acting commissioner Janet Woodcock, who faced strong opposition over her pharmaceutical ties, the New York Times reports.
What to watch: Califf was confirmed in 2016 by an 89-4 vote, but he’ll still face some questions over his ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin, Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, who voted against Califf last time, all reiterated their concern on Friday.
- He was the founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, where he worked closely with drug companies and received consulting fees prior to his first stint as FDA commissioner. More recently, he’s served as a senior adviser for Verily and Google Health.
- “The public has been asking if they can trust the FDA to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks for Alzheimer’s drugs, cancer treatments, and implanted devices,” Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, a non-partisan non-profit think tank, told Axios.
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