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10/29/15

US Pharmaceutical Industry: President Obama nominates Robert Califf-“the ultimate industry insider"-as the new FDA chief

Americans pay the highest prices for prescription drugs of anywhere in the world – and the cost is going up, 12% on average in the last year and in some cases nearly 1,000%.

The problem is bigger than profit vultures like former hedge fund “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. Giant pharmaceutical companies spend millions on lobbyists to defend their monopolies and benefit from trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Instead of fighting for lower prices, Congress and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) routinely side with Big Pharma.

President Obama has recently nominated Robert Califf, a doctor described as “the ultimate industry insider.  Sen. Bernie Sanders recently also made waves by announcing he would oppose Califf’s nomination,

According to the New York Times, Dr. Califf “has deeper ties to the pharmaceutical industry than any F.D.A. commissioner in recent memory.”

 He has an extensive record of close collaboration with pharmaceutical giants, and recently described regulation as a “barrier,” not a safeguard for public health. While he donates his Big Pharma speaking and consulting fees to charity, his lucrative salary at Duke University is directly supported by companies like Merck, Novartis, and Eli Lilly.

In fact, in the conflict of interest section of one recent article, Califf admitted to receiving financial support from more than 20 companies. No matter how good a doctor he is or how fair he attempts to be, Califf is simply too connected to industry.

If he becomes the next head of the FDA, his former sponsors and friends in the pharmaceutical industry will have a friendly ear in a major position of power, threatening our financial well-being and physical health.

This is exactly how big corporations go about capturing control. It’s no wonder that Sen. Sanders declared that Califf simply wasn’t someone who is “prepared to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies and work to substantially lower drug prices.”7 But reports indicate that President Obama nominated Califf deliberately to avoid a fight with Republicans in the Senate, and that Senate Democrats have yet to line up to oppose him.

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