Biden today announced his intention to nominate Califf to serve as FDA commissioner — a job he previously held during the Obama administration from 2016-17.
A cardiology professor at Duke University and a member of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, Califf is also head of clinical policy at Google’s Alphabet sister company Verily Life Sciences.
Califf previously secured Senate confirmation in a bipartisan 89-4 vote. FDA watchers think Biden is betting that history will repeat itself; Biden today urged a swift confirmation.
At the same time, Califf has been criticized for his work as a drug company consultant — with some suggesting that his ties to the pharma industry are too close. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said today that Califf’s nomination makes no sense given the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic.
“Dr. Califf’s nomination and his significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry take us backwards not forward. His nomination is an insult to the many families and individuals who have had their lives changed forever as a result of addiction,” Manchin said.
Biden praised Califf’s experience: “Dr. Robert Califf is one of the most experienced clinical trialists in the country, and has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation’s fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic. As the FDA considers many consequential decisions around vaccine approvals and more, it is mission-critical that we have a steady, independent hand to guide the FDA.”