Robert Califf doesn’t think his many ties to pharmaceutical companies will affect his objectivity in regulating the industry. Congress seems to agree, but we don’t. Action Alert!
Last Tuesday, President Obama’s nominee to take charge of the federal Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, defended his longstanding ties to Big Pharma in a Senate confirmation hearing in which few lawmakers seemed to oppose his candidacy.
By now, Dr. Califf’s lucrative dealings with the drug industry are well known. He ran a clinical research center at Duke University that received the majority of its multi-million dollar budget from Pharma. According to financial disclosures from last year, Dr. Califf received money for consulting with at least seven drug and medical device companies, and six other companies supported his university salary including Merck, Novartis, and Eli Lilly. The conflict of interest section of a paper he wrote for the European Heart Journal last year lists financial support from more than twenty companies.
All of this has led Daniel Carpenter, a Harvard political science professor and an expert on the FDA, to call Califf the “ultimate industry insider.” Indeed, the New York Times notes that “he has deeper ties to the pharmaceutical industry than any FDA commissioner in recent memory.”
The FDA has increasingly been doing the bidding of Big Pharma, since the drug companies pay the agency’s bills and provide lucrative post-government employment opportunities. Califf’s nomination shows that federal officials are dropping all pretenses of picking someone who would actually protect public health or stand up to industry, and instead are baldly installing a fox to guard the henhouse.
Action Alert! Tell Congress to oppose the nomination of Dr. Califf to FDA Commissioner. Please send your message immediately.