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US Senate Selects Dr. Robert Califf As New FDA Commissioner

Update Date: Feb 26, 2016 10:50 AM EST

The US Senate has just confirmed Obama-nominated Robert Califf as succeeding commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration amid an ongoing public frustration over the its seemingly weak response to widespread pain killer drug abuse.

The confirmation was overwhelmingly voted in favor of Califf who had served as one of Duke University's prominent cardiologist and medical scientist as well as being FDA's second highest ranking official.

As Obama's presidency draws to a close, the new commissioner will inherent a number of initiatives and regulatory mandates ranging from food safety and labeling reforms, tobacco regulations, and regulation of the prescription painkillers like Oxycontin which is tied to a recent surge in drug abuse.

"If addiction to opioids and misuse of opioids is the enemy, then we underestimated the tenacity of the enemy, we've got to adjust...The impact of addiction on all society is profound. I don't think anyone anticipated the magnitude of this effect," said Califf as quoted by Columbia Tribune.

Despite huge bipartisan support for his confirmation, Califf has not escaped scathing criticisms from Republicans and Democrats alike according to a report by the Washington Times.

For example, the report mentioned that Tennessee Republic Senator and Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander questioned his long tenure at Duke University and his ties with pharmaceutical industry donors to his clinical research back then. Also, Democratic hopeful Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was critical of his consultant background to drug firms alleging that the new commissioner won't do anything to reduce the cost of medication.

Responding to criticisms about his links to big drug firms during his years as clinical researcher, Califf noted that his record 'stood the test'.

"In due diligence, the way it's supposed to work, people should be concerned, and they should investigate and find out. But I think my record stood the test. You can see we had a bipartisan vote. There were some senators who were still unconvinced. But some of the toughest senators, like Sen. [Elizabeth] Warren, for example, [voted for me]," remarked Califf in an interview with the Washington Post.

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