Senator Bernie Sanders put a hold on President Barack Obama’s nominee to take over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday, joining with two other senators who have also objected to Dr. Robert M. Califf’s nomination, citing his ties to corporate drug manufacturers.
“Dr. Califf’s extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry give me no reason to believe that he would make the FDA work for ordinary Americans, rather than just the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies,” Sanders said in a statement on Tuesday. “We need someone who will work to substantially lower drug prices, implement rules to safely import brand-name drugs from Canada and hold companies accountable who defraud our government.”
As a researcher at Duke University, Califf took millions in funding and “consultation fees” from pharmaceutical giants like Eli Lilly, Merck, and Novartis. The New York Times once described him as the “ultimate industry insider.”
Sanders joins Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in halting Califf’s nomination. Markey, who intervened late last week, said he would continue the blockade until the FDA changes its approval process for opioid painkillers, citing the agency’s decision to use OxyContin to treat children as young as 11.
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