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Statement: Senate Should Reject Biden’s Recycled FDA Commissioner Pick

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Media outlets today reported that President Joe Biden will nominate Dr. Robert Califf to once again be commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf previously was FDA commissioner during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, released the following statement:

“Califf must not be allowed to again pass through the revolving door between the FDA and regulated industries. The Senate therefore must reject Califf’s nomination and demand that Biden nominate an individual who has been dedicated to advancing public health — one who unquestionably will place the public interest ahead of the interests of FDA-regulated industries.

“Califf has a long history of extensive financial ties to Big Pharma, most significantly through pharmaceutical industry funding to the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which he founded in 1996. From 2006 to 2015, he served as a board member and consultant for Faculty Connection, a company that provided a wide array of services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.

“During just the few years before his previous stint as FDA commissioner, Califf reported receiving personal fees for consulting from at least 19 major pharmaceutical manufacturers, including Amgen, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Pfizer.

“After exiting the FDA, Califf revived his lucrative ties with FDA-regulated pharmaceutical companies, receiving consulting fees totaling tens of thousands of dollars from AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, Merck Sharp & Dohme and Sanofi. And in February 2018, he was appointed to the board of directors of the biopharmaceutical company Cytokinetics.

“Califf was a poor choice for FDA commissioner when he was nominated by Obama in 2015 and he remains a poor choice today.”