Do your senators support crony medicine?
Last week, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf as FDA Commissioner.
The final tally was 89 “yea” votes, seven abstentions—and only four “no” votes. The four were Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
Presidential candidates Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) did not vote, nor did Bob Corker (R-TN), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), or Mark Warner (D-VA).
Califf’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry are well documented. He ran a clinical research center at Duke University that received the majority of its multimillion dollar budget from Big 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.
The importance of this decision cannot be understated. According to the New York Times, the FDA regulates a quarter of every dollar spent in the United States—and now Big Pharma has its person in this immensely powerful position. It is a great victory for crony medicine—and a major setback for everyone else.
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