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Biden to nominate former FDA chief Dr. Robert Cardiff to same post

Biden to nominate former FDA chief Dr. Robert Cardiff to same post
President Joe Biden on Friday nominated Dr. Robert Califf to head the Food and Drug Administration, in the same post he held for almost a year under former President Barack Obama. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 12 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden said Friday that he's planning to nominate former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf to the same post.

Reports said that Califf emerged as the "safe choice" after a months-long search to find a successor for Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock who has the requisite skills to handle the agency in the COVID-19 era.

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Woodcock has been criticized over her role in the FDA approving opioid drugs when she ran the FDA's drug division until just early this year. Cardiff's nomination is entirely a result of skepticism in the White House that Woodcock would be confirmed by the Senate as the permanent FDA chief.

"I first want to thank Dr. Janet Woodcock for her leadership over the last year. She has done an incredible job leading the agency during what has been a busy and challenging time," Biden said in a statement.

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"Dr. Robert Califf is one of the most experienced clinical trialists in the country, and has the experience and expertise to lead the Food and Drug Administration during a critical time in our nation's fight to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic."

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Califf, 70, is a cardiologist and researcher who founded the Duke University Clinical Research Institute, one of the largest academic clinical trial operations in the world.

Califf easily won Senate confirmation by a vote of 89-4 in 2016 to be former President Barack Obama's FDA chief, but had served for less than a year when President Donald Trump took office.

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Now, Cardiff is expected to face a tougher route to confirmation due to significant political opposition from Republicans in the chamber -- some of whom have expressly vowed to scuttle virtually anything Biden puts before them.

"Dr. Califf had strong bipartisan support in the Senate in 2016, and I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Dr. Califf so he can continue the important work being done at this critical moment," Biden added.

Cardiff is also head of Clinical Policy at Verily Life Sciences, a research organization. The White House said that he's led many landmark clinical trials and is "one of the most frequently cited authors in biomedical science," with more than 1,200 publications in peer-reviewed literature.

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"He is somebody who is deeply interested in clinical evidence and basically built his career around it," Cytokinetics CEO Robert Blum told Politico.

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"He's certainly not a shill for any one stakeholder. He demonstrated that when he was already at FDA."

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