Senators to grill Obama's FDA commish nominee on pharma ties
- Back in September, President Obama nominated Dr. Robert Califf as FDA Commissioner. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions is holding a nomination hearing on Tuesday for Califf, who is currently the Deputy Commissioner of the FDA.
- Califf, founder of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, is a trained cardiologist who helped design and execute numerous clinical trials for medications and devices.
- However, lawmakers are concerned that Califf may be too deeply enmeshed with the pharmaceutical industry to be an independent FDA comissioner. Others argue his work with pharma companies could be an asset for working with the sector.
Dr. Robert Califf comes well prepared as a trained cardiologist and investigator—but is he too connected to the pharma industry? This question will underscore these hearings. On the positive side, Califf's knowledge of how the drug approval process works is an obvious plus. However, some think his financial relationships with pharma companies as principal investigator in clinical trials might make him biased.
Back in May of 2014, Califf made a PowerPoint presentation at a conference where, in one slide, he referred to government regulation as a "barrier to innovation." This seemingly benign comment has led to questioning of his motives.
Today, Califf will have an opportunity to respond to questions from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and prove his independence.