Senate announces Dr. Robert Califf as New FDA Commissioner

The Senate confirmed Wednesday that Dr. Robert M. Califf will be the new commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In a vote of 89 to 4, cardiologist Califf has won the race to be the next FDA Commissioner.

The decision in favor of President Barack Obama’s pick has come after a few months of opposition from some lawmakers who tried their best to block Califf’s nomination. In their speeches, they even urged other lawmakers to vote against Dr. Califf, a clinical researcher from Duke University.

In a speech on Tuesday, Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, said that FDA has forgotten its real purpose. It was Food and Drug Administration, but in last two decades, it shows that it stands for fostering drug addiction, Markey said on the Senate floor. He also said that there is a need of honest discussion to decide the role of the federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services is playing. Markey added that it’s not just about Dr. Califf, but about the FDA.

Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in response that the FDA is aware of its role to deal with the opioid epidemic in the US. “Earlier, the FDA launched far-reaching plan that leverages its science-based approach, focusing on policies aimed at reversing the epidemic. As part of this effort, during the approval process, the agency plans to re-examine the risk-benefit paradigm for opioids to ensure that it considers wider public health effects”, Griffis added in a mail.

Earlier, it was expected that not many lawmakers will oppose cardiologist Dr. Califf. But, Mr. Markey, Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire; Senators Joe Manchin III and Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut stood against him and also asked lawmakers to vote against the president’s pick.