Obama’s New Appointee To Head The FDA Is A Big Pharma Mega-Lobbyist

While at Duke, Robert M. Califf received millions in funding and salary support from Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, and other drug companies.
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    While at Duke, Robert M. Califf received millions in funding and salary support from Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, and other drug companies.

    While at Duke, Robert M. Califf received millions in funding and salary support from Eli Lilly, Merck, Novartis, and other drug companies.

    (ANTIMEDIA) President Obama’s recent nominee to chair the Food and Drug Administration has drawn harsh criticism for his ties to the pharmaceutical industry. The disapproval grew more justified this week as it was revealed that until this year, nominee Dr. Robert Califf was a board member and consultant for a company whose sole purpose is to help pharmaceutical companies evade and manipulate FDA regulations. He currently serves as the FDA’s deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco and awaits Senate confirmation to become Deputy Commissioner of the agency.

    Faculty Connection, LLC, where Califf served from 2006 to 2015, claims the company “brings together physicians and researchers from leading academic institutions with pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device clients.

    As the Intercept reported, Faculty Connection, LLC  “boasts that its team of ‘practicing university-based physicians and researchers’ provides ‘regulatory consulting,’ including expertise in FDA briefing reviews and other regulatory submissions to the agency.”

    Further, an official corporate video notes the company has “served over 175 different pharma, biotech medical device firms,” claiming to help faculty — researchers, doctors, and academics — work side-by-side with the pharmaceutical industry.

    For example, Dr. Mona Fiuzat’s, a consultant for Facult Connection, LLC, “participated in the preparation for Cardio-renal Advisory Committee presentations to the FDA on behalf of drug sponsors,” according to her biography on the company’s website.

    Califf previously came under fire for helping to establish the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which is funded primarily by pharmaceutical companies.  According to a 2014 “Conflict of Interest Disclosure,” Cahill admitted his close connection to the industry. As TIME summarized, his income 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.” The FDA insists Cahill donates his private income to nonprofits.

    Even so, 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.

    Califf, however, put a positive spin on his conflict of interest. Earlier this year — when he was a only a potential nominee — he told TIME he was a valuable candidate because it would be “useful to have someone [leading the FDA] who understands how companies operate because you’re interacting with them all the time.”

    In spite of Califf’s rhetoric, sordid ties like his continually prove the depths of corruption and the state’s lack of concern for the people it is tasked with protecting. In the United States, 70% of Americans consume pharmaceutical pills — a figure that, perhaps, reveals the consequences of placing corporate puppet masters in charge.

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    • appeal71

      This is the fox guarding the hen house, basically we’ve been screwed twice by Obama. Monsanto and big pharma have a blank check to put any drug or pesticide untested on the market and the only ones the FDA is protecting is monsanto and big pharma,s profits, with no re guard for people and our environment..

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    • Karen Norman

      wow, first the head of Monsanto, not big pharm. WE don’t have a chance.

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    • Barbara Dye

      Conflict of interest.

    • This definitely is another indication that the Democrats are not a valid option to the Republicans. Both parties are owned by corporate interests.

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    • lifebiomedguru

      #curesvsprofits Major book coming out in May 2016 – bound to shake things up!

      • Graceds

        Why do you say it will be a shakeup?

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    • Marcus Brown

      Readers should look elsewhere for their news. What is written here is all bull.

      • Garth

        You show no evidence that you looked into the many sources they cited. The don’t just make this stuff up.

      • Patricia Silverman

        afraid you are either brainwashed or you are one of the elites, using an anonymous icon does not make you one of we the people and your lies prove it, everyone can check for them selves the record is PUBLIC and truth is reported in this article

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    • Carson

      Who is he replacing? Michael Taylor, ex-Monsanto VP?

      • pfassa

        They will be occupying two different positions – Michael Taylor is the food czar and this guy would be Big Pharma’s man.

    • Lindaxox

      This is bad, no one is even pretending it’s not corrupt!

    • bsroon

      DOESN’T MATTER WHAT HE DOES WITH HIS BLOOD MONEY – he gets it, and fame, and prestige, and perks.

      His actions prove that he is inherently biased, and therefore NOT going to protect sonsumers dumb enough to use drugs.

    • Judith

      Obama seems to be a puppet for Big Pharma and Big Agribusiness. When will we feel the ability to trust organisations that are supposed to be looking after OUR interests not big corporations. Michael Taylor is another example.
      When Barack Obama ran for President he promised to end the “revolving door” between agribusiness lobbyists and government. Unfortunately Obama’s decision to appoint Monsanto super lobbyist Michael Taylor as FDA Food Safety Czar broke the trust that the American people had placed in him during his campaign.

      • Bepe13

        It seems that the only name in the country that will “supposedly” deal with these crooks is Bernie! But….?

    • christ_bearer

      Damn.. this guy is one UGLY SOB!!

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      The placement of the loyalties of the corrupt President Barf are never in doubt for a second, are they?

      Excellent photograph of Robert Califf. It seems to have captured his character quite well.