Senate Committee to Hold Vote This Week on Nominee for FDA Commissioner
A Senate committee will vote on Robert Califf’s nomination to become FDA commissioner on Wednesday, Jan. 12, an essential step before the full chamber can hold a confirmation vote on Biden’s pick to lead the nation’s drug regulator.
During Califf’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last month, the former FDA chief fielded questions on a range of topics, including how he would address alleged mistakes in handling the opioid crisis and what reforms he would make to the FDA’s accelerated approval pathway.
Califf sailed through his previous confirmation process, nabbing a Senate vote of 89 to 4 and going on to lead the FDA from 2016 to 2017.
Califf currently serves as the head of clinical policy and strategy for Verily Life Sciences and Google Health at Alphabet. He is well known for his long and prolific career as a clinical trialist and has repeatedly expressed support for patient reported outcomes, real-world evidence and innovative, large-scale trial designs in clinical research, among other measures.
Though Biden’s choice has won widespread bipartisan support — including from HELP committee chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and ranking minority member Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — the support is far from unanimous and dissent has mainly come from Democrats.
Prominent senators such as Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have all made clear they won’t support Califf given his ties to the pharma industry and prior actions as FDA commissioner during the opioid epidemic.