Bioethics Blogs

Debate over New FDA Commissioner

The Duke Chronicle

In a previous post, I argued in favor of Rob Califf as FDA Commissioner. Here is an article from the Duke Chronicle, exploring more of this important debate.

Dr. Robert Califf, former vice chancellor of clinical and translational research, may soon be taking helm of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but not without resistance from organizations and politicians who argue that his experience at Duke has made him too close to the industry.

President Barack Obama announced his nomination of Califf—who is currently the deputy commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco—for FDA commissioner in September. Since then, certain health and patient advocacy organizations and politicians have voiced concerns about Califf’s ability to lead the regulatory agency of the pharmaceutical industry, given his extensive history working with drug companies and leading clinical trials. Many in the medical community have endorsed him, however, arguing that his well-known expertise and scientific integrity make him the best candidate for the job, which involves decisions on whether certain drugs or medical products are safe and effective enough to bring to market.

“Rob has gotten almost uniform support from his academic colleagues, even some of which are very strongly anti-industry,” said Dr. Eric Peterson, executive director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, who added that he considers Califf a mentor and a role model. “Dr. Califf is an incredible scientist and a wonderful doctor. Rob is considered incredibly knowledgeable and fair and a change agent in all of the things seen as needed by the FDA.”

Califf’s nomination awaits approval from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.