Senator Announces Intent to Filibuster Califf’s Nomination

Would-be FDA Commissioner Robert Califf is facing another potential congressional hurdle, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) saying he will filibuster the nominee, citing his strong ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Manchin’s opposition stems from his belief that Califf is not the right person to fix the prescription opioid crisis, especially with what he calls the FDA’s failure to weigh the risk of addiction and overdose death.

“We need to change the culture of the FDA, and that will not happen if the person at the helm is not a champion who is committed to pushing back against the pressure to continually approve new opioid medications given the significant risks to public health,” he said in a statement.

Those comments echo the concerns of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), both of whom have placed a hold on the nominee, citing the prescription opioid epidemic (DID, Jan 27).

During the filibuster, Manchin says he will read letters from West Virginians who are suffering from the effects of opioid abuse.

Manchin has become the fourth senator seeking to delay Califf’s nomination, following Markey and Sanders. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed her intent to block the nominee’s approval until she has reassurances from the agency on mandatory labeling requirements for genetically modified salmon. She voted him through during the Senate HELP committee vote but said she would block him if her concerns are not addressed (DID, Jan. 13). — Michael Cipriano


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