Several Republican votes raise Caliph as some Democrats refuse to choose FDA Biden

On Tuesday, the Senate voted to approve Robert M. Caliph as commissioner of the Office of Food and Drug Administration, overcoming loud opposition from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III and other Democrats, who said President Biden’s election was too comfortable for the pharmaceutical industry.

Several Republicans who support have compensated Democrats who objected to putting Dr. Caliph behind the finish line, 50-46, in an evenly divided hall and taking a critical place during the pandemic.

Mr Biden has left the FDA without a permanent head for more than a year, despite his central role in approving vaccines, treatments and tests for COVID-19.

Dr. Calif had previously run the agency for a year under President Obama, but faced headwinds after Mr. Biden asked him to return.

Some Republicans have accused Dr. Caliph of ignoring the dangers of chemical abortions during his previous work at the FDA, while Democrats said he was not the man to take over the powerful drug industry and control the opioid epidemic after he worked closely with drug manufacturers. Duke Center for Clinical Trials of the University and as a consultant for pharmaceutical companies.

“Think about what you are doing, consider your families and your constituents, and vote against Robert Caliph,” Mr Manchin, whose state was devastated by the opioid crisis, said before the vote.

The opposition made the rollback Tuesday much tougher than Dr. Caliph’s 89-4 vote for confirmation in 2016.

Dr. Caliph’s job at the FDA won’t be much easier.

The agency is battling its share of shocks during the pandemic, including vague reports of additional vaccinations last year and, most recently, the abrupt cancellation of plans to streamline the process of getting injections into the arms of the youngest Americans.

On Tuesday, the FDA was supposed to convene a group of external consultants to discuss the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children under 4, but regulators postponed the session, saying it would be better to wait for third-dose test data.

“Now it’s the most important agency,” former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan said at a webinar hosted this month at Duke University. “Although the staff there is very diligent, it matters when someone is responsible.”

Dr. McClellan described Dr. Caliph as an effective clinician and “expert on medical data and things like vaccine safety and treatment effectiveness.”

“That’s what the agency needs now,” he said.

Dr. Caliph previously served as FDA Commissioner from February 2016 to January 2017. He later worked as an advisor at Verily, a subsidiary of life sciences company Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google.

The FDA has been operating under Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock for more than a year.

“Three hundred and ninety-one days. No matter how effective and successful the Acting Commissioner may be, and we have been blessed by Janet Woodcock’s leadership, full support for the presidential nomination and approval by the United States Senate have weight that allows the appointed Commissioner to advance necessary change and leadership in the federal agency. ” said Sen. Richard Beer of North Carolina, a senior Republican on the Senate Health Committee who backed Mr. Biden’s election Tuesday.

He described Dr. Caliph as an extremely skilled scientist who would help end the pandemic.

“He is the leader we need today, but also for the future,” Mr Behr said.

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