• May 26, 2024

Robert Califf Confirmed as FDA Commissioner

 Robert Califf Confirmed as FDA Commissioner
Photo: FDA

The U.S. Senate on Feb. 15 narrowly confirmed Robert Califf as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, reports The New York Times.

The vote was 50-to-46, with six Republicans crossing the aisle to support him while five senators who caucus with Democrats opposed him. One senator voted present.

A cardiologist who has served as the deputy commissioner of the FDA’s Office of Medical Products and Tobacco, as President Barack Obama’s FDA commissioner and as the head of medical strategy at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Califf takes over the position from Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner since President Joe Biden assumed office more than a year ago.

According to Vaping360, Califf has been generally antagonistic toward vaping as a consumer product. He was at the FDA helm in 2016 when the agency rolled out the Deeming Rule, which gave the FDA authority over e-cigarettes and other tobacco-free nicotine products.

Tellingly, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) enthusiastically welcomed Califf’s appointment. “Dr. Califf is highly qualified and prepared on day one to address the enormous challenges facing the FDA, including the most significant decisions on tobacco in the agency’s history,” wrote CTFK President Matthew L. Myers in a statement.

Califf is expected to be sworn in this week. He faces a looming flurry of decisions, including reviews of premarket tobacco applications from leading e-cigarette companies, such as Juul Labs. He will also have to contend with litigation from vapor companies over marketing denial orders (MDOs).

After issuing MDOs to hundreds of manufacturers for hundreds of thousands flavored product, the agency has been challenged in court by more than 30 companies that claim their PMTAs were denied based on a standard that was not in place when the applications were submitted.

One of the new commissioner’s first tasks will be working with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to find a replacement for Center for Tobacco Products Director Mitch Zeller, who plans to retire in April.