Bernie Sanders informed the Obama Administration today that Dr. Michael Califf was not going to be in charge of the Food and Drug Administration. Sanders said that he had placed a hold on Califf’s appointment as head of the FDA because of his extremely close ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
The Centers for Disease Control reported that at least one in five Americans, which translates to about 35 million people, cannot afford to purchase the prescriptions their doctors give them. The CDC also reported that a record of $374 billion dollars was spent on prescription drugs in 2014.
In his official statement, Sanders said that Califf’s strong ties to the pharmaceutical industry made him skeptical about whether or not he would allow the FDA to work for the average person, rather than just the corporate executives from the pharmaceutical companies.
TIME reported that Califf once operated a clinical research center at Duke University. That research center received most of its funding through some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the nation.
During his time at Duke University, big names and companies from the pharmaceutical industry paid Califf to conduct consultations.
Sanders said that, since so many Americans are not able to afford the medicine they need, the FDA needs someone who will effectively stand up to the big drug companies.
He said that he also would prefer someone who will work to lower the prices on pharmaceutical drugs, put rules in place to import certain drugs from Canada, and hold big companies who illegally obtain government money accountable for this crime.
Many people are not surprised by Sanders’ decision to stop Califf from being appointed as the head of the FDA. In November, he outwardly criticized the doctor at a confirmation hearing. During a heated exchange, Sanders noted that Califf supports the fact that produce like fish and vegetables are imported from Canada, but he does not feel the same about prescription drugs being imported from the country.
During their confrontation, Califf would not say whether he supported the idea to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of its senior users.