Robert Califf Confirmed as FDA Commissioner, with Woodcock Moving to Principal Deputy
After a long, three-month nomination process, Robert Califf has been confirmed as the new FDA commissioner. And long-time agency veteran and acting commissioner Janet Woodcock will stay on as second-in-command.
Califf was sworn in late last week and has already begun working on important hires, offering the position of principal deputy commissioner to Janet Woodcock, who announced her acceptance of the number two spot. This comes after Woodcock steered the agency in an acting capacity throughout the past year.
Califf was confirmed last week in a close 50-to-46 Senate vote that contrasted with his easy 89-to-4 confirmation vote in 2016. He underwent a difficult nomination process, during which lawmakers pressed him on issues such as accelerated approvals and his future employment in the drug industry and Republicans withheld votes as payback for the agency’s easing of access to the abortion pill.
A prolific clinical researcher, once on the job Califf is expected to push for clinical research reforms, with a focus on diversity, the increased use of real-world evidence and the rising costs and complexity of trials.
Califf’s confirmation process was the longest in FDA history, and his four-vote margin was the slimmest, edging out that of Trump administration nominee Scott Gottlieb, who was narrowly confirmed with a 57-to-42 vote.
The final Senate vote was not on straight party lines. Four Democrats voted against Califf’s nomination: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H). Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) voted against him, too.