The U.S. Senate’s health committee is slated to vote Jan. 12 on President Barack Obama’s nominee to be FDA commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf.
Califf, a cardiologist and longtime Duke University researcher, joined the FDA as a deputy commissioner in January 2015. Although he’s won praise from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R.-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions panel, Califf has drawn criticism from the left for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), during a Capitol Hill appearance last November, said the FDA needs a candidate who can stand up to an industry that has been “ripping off” the American people by charging “outrageous” prices for medicines.
“I have to say to you with regret that you are not that person,” Sanders told the nominee. “While all of us agree that clearly we want great new products out on the market to save lives, for millions of people it doesn’t matter what the products are, they just cannot afford them.” Sanders has promised to vote against Califf’s appointment.