WASHINGTON – The White House is considering naming Dr. Robert M. Califf, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, to re-lead the organization, according to five people with experience in finding a candidate.
The FDA has not had a permanent director since President Biden took office, sparking repeated criticism from public health experts who said the agency lacked a clear direction within the segment of the disease, while facing a crackdown on coronavirus vaccines, testers and drugs.
People familiar with the search process said no final step had been taken. The DAA’s acting director, Dr. Janet Woodcock, a longtime drug administrator, is nearing the end of a term in which executives are allowed to work.
Dr. Califf declined to comment. News of his candidacy was first reported in The Washington Post.
Dr. Califf, a cardiologist who teaches at Duke University School of Medicine, served for only a short time as president of the DAA, at the end of President Barack Obama’s second term. He was a deputy commissioner of the medical and tobacco organization before taking office from March 2016 to January 2017.
He was confirmed by the Senate as a commissioner in February 2016 in the 99th to 4th vote, after some lawmakers opposed his election over what he said was a bad record for pain management. His election was met with strong pressure from the Democrats.
A senior government official familiar with the investigation said Dr. Califf had been an attractive representative at the White House because of his previous appointment as ambassador, indicating that he could do so through the senate to strengthen the practice as well. Several key Democrats have expressed their opposition to Dr. Woodcock, has been with the DFA since 1986, when he was appointed as the organisation’s permanent Commissioner.
Sénata Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who is a moderately important vote, wrote a letter in June to Mr. Biden criticizes Doctor Woodcock’s record at FDA, saying he did not object to the organization’s approval by opioid refractors early in his career.
“Even though the industry has benefited from the attitude that existed thirty-five years ago of Dr Woodcock’s stay at FDA,” he wrote, “people, patients and families suffering from opioid fever did not.”
Dr. Woodcock is admired by other leaders within the DAA But his tenure as commissioner has at times been criticized. Earlier this year, the agency approved the use of aducanumab, a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease, a controversial move by the branch’s independent advisory board and many outside scientists. Several members of the panel stopped protesting. The FDA itself later called for an investigation into the behavior that led to the approval.
The organization said that Dr. Woodcock was not involved in the investigation and left the final verdict to the central drug officer.
Dr. Woodcock also faced another internal revolt this year in the staff vaccination office, one of its key groups. Two executives of that office are set to leave the agency this fall; A number of people who heard about the election said they were going together because of concerns over Biden’s announcement in August that it was planning the release of a booner who was receiving coronavirus.
Public health experts have criticized the authorities for foreordaining the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have not yet tested gun tests. Dr. Woodcock signed a memorandum announcing the move, a move that critics have blamed on their judges.
Katie Rogers, Sharon LaFraniere and Katie Thomas helped report.