President Obama’s pick to be the new commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration is quite possibly the worst selection imaginable.
His pick, Dr. Robert Califf, is the former professor of cardiology at Duke University, where he led a research department that was funded by Big Pharma. On top of conducting medical research on Big Pharma’s dime, Dr. Califf was also a paid consultant for drug companies including Eli Lily, Merck, and Novartis. Reports indicate that he donated that money to non-profit organizations since the mid-2000’s, but that’s still a very cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, considering they have funded his entire career.
Here’s the problem – we don’t need another industry insider serving with the Obama administration. Think about Eric Holder. He came from a corporate defense law firm where he represented the big banks, and then he refused to take white collar crime seriously when he was at the Department of Justice. Having an industry insider at the FDA is an even worse scenario because we’re talking about people’s lives here. If his industry ties lead him to seek approval for even one dangerous drug, he could be responsible for the deaths of countless U.S. citizens.
Is it worth it? Absolutely not. But this is Obama’s legacy. And this is why voters are falling in love with people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, because they are so vocal about their disdain for the corporate/political revolving door and the influence machine. And that’s what we need in a leader now – someone that isn’t afraid to say no to corporations, and that person certainly isn’t Barack Obama.