Obama picks Big Pharma puppet to run FDA
You know that “For Sale” sign that’s practically been sitting outside FDA headquarters for years?
Well, consider the agency as good as sold. And the drug companies may as well start moving in the furniture.
Just last week President Obama announced that he was appointing Dr. Robert Califf to serve as the next FDA commissioner.
Obama would have you believe that Califf is some sort of medical pioneer — but there’s a little more to the good doctor’s story than our president is admitting.
Califf is an industry puppet who has gotten rich off of just about every drug company you can imagine. And he may be just weeks from launching a dangerous pharma-friendly agenda that could threaten you and the people you love.
The fox in the hen houseThe ultimate industry insider.
That’s what Harvard political science professor Daniel Carpenter calls Califf, who’s on the verge of running the FDA and making health decisions that affect millions.
And Califf is an insider, all right. He’s found a way to get inside Big Pharma’s pockets, bank accounts, and everywhere else they keep cash.
You see, Califf isn’t one of those rinky-dink doctors getting a free steak dinner here and there from the drug companies. He’s what those docs want to be when they grow up.
As head of Duke University’s Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), Califf was pulling in more than $160 million annually in Big Pharma grants. And he was personally pocketing $100,000 a year in consulting fees from companies like Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Novartis.
In fact, in a conflict-of-interest statement after an article he wrote for a heart journal last year, Califf listed payments from more than 20 pharma companies! You’d have an easier time finding Bigfoot than a major drug company that hasn’t written him a check.
And it looks like the investment Big Pharma made in Califf is about to become money very well spent. Because if Califf has his way as FDA commissioner, we may lose the last remaining federal safeguards we have to protect us from dangerous drugs.
And, as you know, there weren’t too many to begin with.
You see, at CTTI, Califf’s job was to help companies find ways to speed drugs and devices through the FDA as fast as possible. Consequences be damned.
Pfizer even gushed that its work “would (not) have been possible without the backing, influence and support of CTTI.” And Califf personally helped Amgen win approval for Repatha, an injectable cholesterol-lowering drug that could trigger dementia!
In a presentation not too long ago, Califf actually called regulation a “barrier” to innovation — even though the FDA was approving new drugs at a record pace.
How terrifying is that? This is the guy who’s now going to be responsible for setting drug approval policy for our entire country.
And, believe me, this is shady even by Obama’s and the FDA’s standards. Former FDA head Dr. David Kessler is warning that there’s never been an industry insider quite like Califf at the agency’s helm before.
Unfortunately, Big Pharma has greased so many palms in Congress that experts are expecting Califf to sail through his Senate confirmation with few problems.
But that doesn’t mean we should take this lying down — or that we shouldn’t make some noise.
Consumer group Public Citizen is already calling on senators to reject Califf’s appointment, and we all need to do the same.
You can send a note to your senators here. Remind them that it’s about time we had an FDA commissioner who actually looked out for our interests.
Not another Big Pharma puppet who will put drug company profits before people.
“F.D.A. nominee Califf’s ties to drug makers worry some” Sabrina Tavernise, September 19, 2015, The New York Times, nytimes.com