Senate Confirms New FDA Commissioner

"I look forward to working with Dr. Califf to ensure the FDA can carry out every aspect of its critical mission, from ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the medical products we use to protecting the nation's food supply and implementing its oversight of tobacco products, to furthering our efforts to combat opioid abuse," HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a new commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf, following U.S. Senate confirmation of the nominee on Feb. 24. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell praised the confirmation and congratulated Califf in a statement:

"I commend the Senate for their bipartisan vote today and am pleased that President Obama's nominee, Dr. Robert Califf, will become the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Califf is the right person with the right experience to build on the FDA's unsurpassed record of protecting public health while encouraging innovation and the introduction of new life-saving therapies to the market," Burwell said in the statement. "I look forward to working with Dr. Califf to ensure the FDA can carry out every aspect of its critical mission, from ensuring the safety and effectiveness of the medical products we use to protecting the nation’s food supply and implementing its oversight of tobacco products, to furthering our efforts to combat opioid abuse. Dr. Califf's life in medicine and research has positively impacted the lives of many Americans, and as the new head of the FDA, he will be able to improve the lives of many more.

"I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Steve Ostroff for serving as acting commissioner. He has provided important leadership and a steady hand as the FDA has continued its important work. I am grateful for his willingness to serve and look forward to continuing our work together through the remainder of the administration," she added.

Ostroff, the acting administrator, also praised the new commissioner in a statement of his own: "Today the U.S. Senate voted in support of the confirmation of Dr. Robert Califf, M.D. to be Commissioner of U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Califf has demonstrated a long and deep commitment to advancing the public health throughout his distinguished career as a physician, researcher, and leader in the fields of science and medicine. He understands well the critical role that the FDA plays in responding to the changes in our society while protecting and promoting the health of the public, across the many areas we regulate – and I am confident that our public health and scientific contributions will further grow under his exceptional leadership."

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairs the Senate HELP Committee, which approved Califf's nomination on Jan. 12, 2016. "Dr. Califf is now in place to lead an agency that regulates over $4 trillion annually and affects the lives of nearly every single American," Alexander said in a statement issued after the confirmation vote Feb. 24. "A major priority of the Senate health committee this year is our biomedical innovation agenda – companion legislation to the House's 21st Century Cures Act – to help get safe and effective drugs and medical devices into doctors' offices and medicine cabinets more quickly. Dr. Califf will be a good partner in that effort, helping us get a result for American patients. . . .The House has completed its work on the 21st Century Cures Act. The president has announced his support for a precision medicine initiative and a cancer 'moonshot.' It is urgent that the Senate finish its work and turn into law these ideas that will help virtually every American."

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