Califf Likely to Face Tough Questions at Tomorrow’s FDA Senate Hearing

Cardiologist Robert M. Califf, MD, is one step closer to becoming the head of the FDA, heading before a Senate committee tomorrow, November 17. 

The committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Lamar Alexander, is expected to ask Califf some tough questions in the wake of concerns regarding his ties to industry. Califf was the founding director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which receives more than 60% of its funding from industry. An editorial in The New York Times today says Califf must “show that he will be able to guard the public interest and resist industry pressures.”

Likewise, drug industry blogger Ed Silverman, writing about Califf’s pending nomination hearing on Pharmalot, says it remains “an open question ... whether he is biased towards industry.”

Last month the New England Journal of Medicine came out in support of Califf’s nomination, urging the Senate to “act favorably.” But others, including Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, oppose his nomination. President Obama nominated Califf in September to replace Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, who had led the agency since mid 2009.


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