Senate HELP Committee Sends FDA Nominee Califf to Full Vote
In a unanimous voice vote, the Senate HELP Committee last week voted in favor of Robert Califf to be the next commissioner of the FDA.
But the nominee will face one more hurdle as the vote moves to the full Senate. Committee member Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) reiterated her intent to block Califf’s approval until she has reassurances from the agency on mandatory labeling requirements for genetically modified salmon.
Califf received strong support from Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who praised the nominee for having “impressive qualifications.” Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.), said he would be a “valuable partner” at the helm of the FDA. She added that his record as a former cardiologist and Duke clinical researcher is “a clear indication that he will be a strong, independent FDA commissioner.”
One of Califf’s sharpest critics, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), was not in attendance at the hearing. Sanders has said on several occasions that he does not support the nominee because of his alleged cozy relationship with the drug industry.
Califf has said he is in favor of clinical trial reform; however, he does not believe new FDA regulations are needed. Instead, he is calling for a combination of small, focused trials for precision medicine and large retrospective trials using electronic health records to lower costs. Those comments were in response to inquiries from Alexander and Murray during Califf’s confirmation hearing in November 2015.
A full Senate vote on Califf’s confirmation has not yet been scheduled.