FDA Nominee to Get Senate Hearing Nov. 17

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By Nathaniel Weixel

Nov. 9 — Robert Califf, President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the FDA, will get a confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Nov. 17, a committee aide told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 9.

Califf, the deputy commissioner for medical products and tobacco at the agency and a former Duke University researcher, was nominated for the position in September (179 HCDR, 9/16/15).

Senator Vows to Block Nomination

The hearing will occur despite an announcement from Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) in October that he would block all HHS nominees from reaching the Senate floor until the administration explains the failures of the Affordable Care Act's CO-OP program.

Califf isn't expected to face much opposition in the committee, but Sasse's objection would make him unable to be considered by the full Senate, a requirement to getting confirmed. When Califf was nominated, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made note of Califf's “impressive credentials” and said the committee would “move promptly to consider his nomination.”

Califf would succeed former FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who stepped down at the end of March. Stephen Ostroff, the agency's former chief scientist, has served as acting commissioner since then. When Califf was appointed deputy commissioner, it was widely assumed he would be the nominee to permanently replace Hamburg. Califf's job as a researcher and professor at Duke has been on hold since he joined the FDA.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nathaniel Weixel in Washington at nweixel@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nancy Simmons at nsimmons@bna.com