Many people, when they think of a position such as Surgeon General, expect to have someone of impeccable character, of squeaky clean reputation, of a mind that will encourage us to higher and better things. Unfortunately, our President has not offered up such a person to us.
What Americans received is Dr. Robert Califf as President Obama’s nomination for head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when Margaret Hamburg steps down in March, 2016. Dr. Califf is someone with a background that concerns many people interested in unbiased recommendations from their doctors and health professionals.
Time magazine tries to lay out support for Califf, but they also list the concerns of many Americans about Califf: his close ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Time writes,
“Califf is widely respected in the public and private sectors, but his candidacy is seen by some as a threat to the independence and authority of the FDA, thanks to his views on the need to accelerate change and his deep financial and intellectual ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.
“Califf says his salary is contractually underwritten in part by several large pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Novartis. He also receives as much as $100,000 a year in consulting fees from some of those companies, and from others, according to his 2014 conflict of interest disclosure.”
Daniel Barker continues,
“From 2006 to 2015, Califf worked for Faculty Connection, a company which provides ‘regulatory consulting’ for the medical industry. In other words, its services are designed to help pharmaceutical companies and others within the industry sidestep federal regulations.”
One concern with Califf is that these close ties will lead to both wrecklessness in how quickly drugs are approved so that drugs unfit for use by humans are passed quickly for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies. Another concern is that these close ties will mean that decisions for drug approval by the FDA, already under scrutiny by some for questionable ethical guidelines, will be passed radically in favor of pharmaceutical companies’ bottom lines without regard for the health of the American people.
Jeffrey Phillips of WeAreChange.org said,
“Califf’s appointment is hardly surprising. Michael Taylor, the current Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the FDA — also appointed by Barack Obama — used to be Monsanto’s vice president for public policy.
“Collusion between corporations and the FDA is widely documented. This influence has presumably contributed to many questionable decisions, such as the FDA’s approval of oxycontin for children or the ongoing approval of countless dangerous drugs that are later recalled.”
The bottom line is that the American consumer will need to be even more vigilant in reviewing recommendations of doctors and pharmaceutical companies because it seems that Washington, D.C. is becoming even more overt about their callous disregard for the well-being of the American people.