Robert Califf has been confirmed as the new commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The United States Senate approved the appointment on 24 February 2016 after months of debate.
Acting FDA commissioner Stephen Ostroff welcomed the appointment. “Dr Califf has demonstrated a long and deep commitment to advancing the public health throughout his distinguished career as a physician, researcher, and leader in the fields of science and medicine,” he said in a statement.
Califf’s previous role was as deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco at the FDA and he was then nominated for the commissioner role by US President Barack Obama in September 2015. The nomination was met with opposition from some senators who objected to Califf’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry and what they saw as the FDA’s failure in controlling the opioid abuse epidemic sweeping the United States. In response to the concerns, Califf released a plan of action to tackle opioid abuse on 4 February 2016.
As a professor at Duke University, Califf specialised in cardiology and is recognised as an “international leader in cardiovascular medicine, health outcomes, healthcare quality and medical economics,” according to the US National Institutes of Health. However, Califf has also presided over several clinical trial initiatives that have strongly tied him to the pharmaceutical industry. In a recent publication in the New
England Journal of Medicine, he had at least 12 pharmaceutical companies listed on his conflicts of interest disclosure.