New FDA commissioner confirmed

By Deanna Utroske contact

- Last updated on GMT

New FDA commissioner confirmed

Related tags: Food and drug administration

Dr. Robert Califf now leads the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Food and Drug Administration. The cardiologist-by-training is expected to focus much more on issues of food, drug, and tobacco regulation than on cosmetics.  

Just last week the Senate confirmed Califf. And following the decision Dr. Stephen Ostroff, who’s steping down from his post as interim commissioner as Califf steps up, told the press that “Dr. Califf has demonstrated a long and deep commitment to advancing the public health throughout his distinguished career as a physician, researcher, and leader in the fields of science and medicine.”

Leadership role

Ostroff went on to say that Califf will serve the public effectively: “[Califf] understands well the critical role that the FDA plays in responding to the changes in our society while protecting and promoting the health of the public, across the many areas we regulate – and I am confident that our public health and scientific contributions will further grow under his exceptional leadership.”

Dr. Margaret Hamburg held the Commissioner role from 2009 to 2015. Hamburg was one of the longest serving leaders of the FDA and is widely credited with improving the agency’s function, overseeing quicker drug approvals among other accomplishments. 

Business at hand

The new head of the FDA will right away have lawmakers pushing for a faster drug and medical device approval process, notes an item on Califf at scientificamerican.com. He’ll be working to add e-cigarettes to the roster of goods regulated by the administration, too.

“The FDA is also attempting to implement sweeping new regulations to improve food safety and has begun to tackle the approval process for biosimilars, which are cheaper versions of biologic drugs,” ​reports that site.

Qualifications

Califf has been with the FDA since February of last year when he accepted a position as deputy commissioner. Before that he worked at Duke University in North Carolina.

When he joined the administration, he told the press, “this position will allow me the opportunity to apply the insights I have gained from my experience working for over 30 years with the many bright and dedicated people in the Duke family to help shape the future of medicine and public health.”

Interestingly enough, Califf served on a review group in 2007—the Science Board’s Subcommittee on Science and Technology—that published a report titled, FDA Science and Mission at Risk.

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