Senate confirms Dr. Robert Califf by a vote of 50-46
Senator Murray: “At this critical moment, we need a trusted hand to lead the FDA—and Dr. Califf’s previous service in this role, and his career as one of the nation’s leading research scientists, give him the experience to take on this challenge.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Senate voted to confirm Dr. Robert Califf to serve as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by a vote of 50-46.
In remarks delivered on the Senate floor yesterday, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urged her colleagues to join her in supporting Dr. Califf’s nomination and stressed the importance of having an experienced, Senate-confirmed leader at the FDA.
“At this critical moment, we need a trusted hand to lead the FDA—and Dr. Califf’s previous service in this role, and his career as one of the nation’s leading research scientists, give him the experience to take on this challenge,” said Senator Murray. “Families across the country count on the Food and Drug Administration every day to follow the science and the data, and keep them safe.”
Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
“Thank you M. President. I come to the Senate floor today to urge my colleagues to confirm Dr. Robert Califf to serve as Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
“Dr. Califf was confirmed to this role previously with strong bipartisan support, and I hope to see that happen once again today.
“At this critical moment, we need a trusted hand to lead the FDA—and Dr. Califf’s previous service in this role, and his career as one of the nation’s leading research scientists, give him the experience to take on this challenge.
“Families across the country count on the Food and Drug Administration every day to follow the science and the data, and keep them safe.
“And COVID-19 has put its work in the spotlight like never before. This pandemic has been incredibly hard on our nation—it has killed over 900,000 Americans.
“And throughout this crisis, as people have sought to keep their families safe, they have looked to the FDA and depended on the tireless work of FDA scientists to confirm the safety and effectiveness of treatments and vaccines, ensure we have high quality masks, review tests to make sure they give us accurate results, and more.
“And parents across the country are continuing to wait anxiously for FDA to greenlight safe, effective vaccines for kids under five—something I know we all want to see as quickly as the science allows.
“But while the COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the most urgent challenges our nation faces. There are countless other ways FDA’s work matters to families.
“Every day, people put the wellbeing of themselves, their families, even their pets—in FDA’s hands. When we sit down for a meal—we count on FDA’s efforts to ensure the safety of our food supply, and provide us with the information we need to make healthy choices.
“When we get our prescriptions filled, or rely on medical devices to stay healthy—we count on FDA’s work to uphold the gold standard of safety and effectiveness.
“The FDA needs strong leadership to continue that work, and to address other pressing challenges. Challenges like the opioid crisis which recently claimed over 100,000 lives in a year—a new record. Challenges like youth tobacco use. According to the CDC, two million youth use e-cigarettes. Challenges like anti-microbial resistance, which could make common procedures more dangerous, by making current infection treatments ineffective. Challenges like skyrocketing drug costs, and pharmaceutical companies who game the FDA approval system to keep more affordable drugs off the market. And challenges like improving health equity.
“For example, I’ve repeatedly raised the need for FDA to improve diversity in clinical trials. Because when women, people of color, and others are left out of clinical trials. This undermines people’s health by delaying information they and their health care providers need to understand how a treatment will affect them specifically—for example whether it is safe during pregnancy—and by making it hard to identify differences in the safety and effectiveness of treatments for these patient populations.
“As the hardworking staff at FDA continues to tackle these challenges, they deserve a Senate-confirmed leader, with experience on these issues, to lead their efforts.
“Dr. Califf worked on these challenges before—when he was previously confirmed to lead FDA in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, and he demonstrated in his hearing with the HELP Committee that he is ready to take them on again and return as Commissioner.
“So I urge all of my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm Dr. Califf, and working with him to ensure FDA continues to protect families across the country, uphold the gold standard of safety and effectiveness, and put science and data first.