There’s a New FDA Commissioner in Town

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The biotechnology industry is pleased the Senate finally confirmed Dr. Robert Califf as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. The Senate voted 89-4 Wednesday to confirm Califf, a cardiologist and clinical researcher at Duke University. His confirmation had been delayed by a few senators who contended the FDA was doing a poor job of dealing with the increased abuse of prescription painkillers. Plus, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont who’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination, opposed Califf’s confirmation.

“I’m not convinced he will stand up to the pharmaceutical industry’s greed,” Sanders tweeted.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization is glad that Califf will finally come on board to run the FDA.

“Dr. Califf’s confirmation comes at a time of tremendous advances being made in biotechnology and regulatory science, and I am confident he will provide the stability, leadership and confidence the public seeks from an agency entrusted with such a critical mission,” said BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood, a former member of the House.

One of the senators who voted for Califf’s confirmation cited his home state’s biotech industry in his statement about it.

“Colorado’s thriving bioscience community depends on the FDA to help it get new lifesaving drugs to patients, advance research and development into new drugs and therapies, and to ensure we have a safe and secure drug supply,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Calif. “We will work with Dr. Califf in his role as FDA commissioner to ensure these remain a priority.” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Califf will be “a good partner” for his Senate committee’s “Biomedical innovation agenda – companion legislation to the House’s 21st Century Cures Act – to help get safe and effective drugs and medical devices into doctors’ offices and medicine cabinets more quickly.”

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