Democratic candidate cites concerns over FDA’s current pricing and addiction policies
The International Business Times reported late January that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has announced he is formally blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, citing “concerns about his ties to the pharmaceutical industry and a lack of commitment to lowering drug prices.” MSNBC reported that the Democratic presidential candidate expressed opposition to Robert Califf last year, when Obama announced the doctor would be his pick.
“Dr. Califf’s extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry give me no reason to believe that he would make the FDA work for ordinary Americans, rather than just the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies,” Sanders said in a statement six days before facing Hillary Clinton in the crucial Iowa caucuses.
For her part, Mrs. Clinton has outlined a plan to crack down on drug prices, while at the same time leading the field in donations received from the pharmaceutical industry.
IBT reported that Califf, a cardiologist and researcher at Duke University, has been deputy commissioner at the FDA since last February. Obama nominated him to be the agency’s next commissioner in September.
“The decision to place a hold on Obama’s nominee comes one day after Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) also put a hold on Califf’s nomination. The nomination passed the Senate Health Committee earlier this month, but Markey said he will block the nomination until the FDA changes its approval process for opioid painkillers, the Hill reported. The agency decided last year to approve the use of OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old, and Markey wants the agency to promise to hold advisory committees before making similar decisions in the future,” IBT said.
In the article, Sanders said he agreed with Markey’s concerns, emphasizing that “the FDA must change the way it approaches addiction.” The Vermont senator has made the pharmaceutical industry one of the many establishment targets during his run for the White House.
“I also strongly believe that at a time when millions of Americans cannot afford to purchase the prescription drugs they require, we need a leader at the FDA who is prepared to stand up to the drug companies. We need someone who will work to substantially lower drug prices, implement rules to safely import brand-name drugs from Canada and hold companies accountable who defraud our government,” he said in the statement.
Sanders and Markey echo the sentiments of many, including overseas critics of the West’s handling of socioeconomic matters. Among these issues are recent efforts to privatize Medicare and Social Security; and the regulation and pricing of prescription drugs. The British publication EconomicPopulist.org, for example, opined that “For any citizen of any Western country who is so stupid or brainwashed as not to have caught on, the entire thrust of ‘their’ government’s policy is to turn every aspect of their lives over to grasping private interests.” An unminced, big-picture perspective, without a doubt.