Obama’s FDA Nominee Spars with Democrats

President Obama’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday defended himself against a chorus of Democratic criticism over his ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Dr. Robert Califf, a cardiologist who has worked closely with drug companies on product studies, stressed that he has conducted his work with a critical eye with a particular focus on public safety.

“Yes, the industry funds the studies,” Califf said in response to questions from the top Democrat on the Senate’s health committee, Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.). “But we have an independent voice guaranteed by a contract.”

“I think the American public completely depends on having confidence that the FDA is independent,” he said before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP).

Califf, a cardiologist who joined the FDA in February, has come under fire for his ties to pharmaceutical giants, including $100,000 worth of consulting work in 2014.