(HealthDay News) — President Joe Biden said on Friday he will nominate Robert Califf, MD, former head of the US Food and Drug Administration, to lead the agency once more.
Califf, who served during the last year of the Obama administration, has long been a consultant to drug companies and ran a Duke University research center that received funding from the pharmaceutical industry, The New York Times reported. The 70-year-old cardiologist and adjunct professor of medicine at Duke University and Stanford University is on the corporate board of Cytokinetics, according to the biopharmaceutical company’s website. He has received personal fees for consulting from Merck, Amgen, Biogen, Genentech, Eli Lilly, and Boehringer Ingelheim, according to his Duke University biography. For the past 2 years, Califf has been the head of clinical policy and strategy for the health technology firm Verily Life Sciences and its sister company Google Health.
During his previous tenure as FDA commissioner, Califf wanted to allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise off-label uses for FDA-approved products, which is not permitted under drug advertising rules. But many public health experts condemned the proposal as dangerous and it was blocked by others in the Obama administration, a person familiar with the situation told The Times.
Having seen the harmful effects of smoking on the heart, Califf has been a forceful advocate for tobacco control — he was the FDA deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco.
For nearly a year, the Biden administration has been trying to find a new FDA commissioner, considering and dropping several candidates after concerns were raised that some were too close with the drug industry. If confirmed by the Senate, Califf will direct an agency that is responsible for more than $2.8 trillion worth of food, medical products, and tobacco. The FDA regulates products accounting for about 20 cents of every dollar spent by consumers in the United States.