Robert Califf Confirmed as New FDA Leader

On 24, Feb, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s nominee–Robert Califf–as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new leader.

Califf is a former Duke University researcher, professor and cardiologist. He joined the FDA as deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco in January 2015. He succeeds Margaret Hamburg, who headed FDA for six years and completed her tenure exactly a year ago. Califf will continue to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which is ultimately aimed at preventing foodborne outbreaks as opposed to merely reacting to them. He will also be charged with decision-making related to food labeling.

Although Califf’s appointment was decided by an overwhelming vote of 89-4, some Democratic Senators–including Independent presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont–opposed the nomination because of Califf’s connection to the pharmaceutical industry.

Besides food safety and labeling regulations, other tasks on Califf’s plate deal with regulations for tobacco and e-cigarettes, tackling the national prescription drug epidemic, and approving new drugs for cancer and other diseases.


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