Is Califf’s Nomination for FDA Chief In Trouble?

Robert Califf’s return to the top job at the FDA is in peril, reports Politico. But another news source predicts the Senate will eventually vote in favor of making him the FDA commissioner for a second time.

The Biden’s administration tortuous journey to having a permanent FDA commissioner continues to have twist and turns.

The administration waited nearly 10 months before settling on Robert Califf, M.D., as a nominee in November. Politico reported today that “Califf’s supporters fear his candidacy is on the brink” and that the White is House is asking Anthony Fauci and other advisers to help “rescue the nomination.”

“If the vote was held today, he would not have the vote,” Politico quoted an unnamed source as saying.

‘White House isn’t supporting him’: Biden’s FDA pick left in limbo,” was the headline on the story, which is, however, largely based on unnamed sources.

A Bloomberg Law story posted on Monday cast Califf’s chances in a more optimistic light. Echoing statements made when Califf was nominated in November, the Bloomberg Law story says that Califf’s “previous stint as FDA chief will help him secure the role once again despite growing lawmaker opposition over this drug company ties.”

Politico reported that five Democrats — Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) — have signaled opposition to Califf’s nomination.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee voted 13-8 in favor of Califf’s nomination two weeks ago. Sanders and Hassan voted against forwarding his name.

Califf has been criticized by Democrats for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry, which have included consulting fees and other financial arrangements. His supporters tend to speak of his experience and expertise in clinical trials.

Califf, a cardiologist, was FDA commissioner from Feb. 2016 through Jan. 2017.