Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Manchin to Filibuster Obama's FDA Nominee ; Seantor Says President's Pick Is Too Close to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Manchin to Filibuster Obama's FDA Nominee ; Seantor Says President's Pick Is Too Close to the Pharmaceutical Industry

Article excerpt

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced plans Wednesday to filibuster President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration, saying Obama's pick has close ties to the pharmaceutical industry and won't be tough enough against opioid painkillers. During a speech on the U.S. Senate floor, Manchin said the FDA needs a total overhaul, and Dr. Robert Califf, now second in command at the federal agency, won't make that happen.

"I do not believe he is the leader we need to change the culture of the FDA and address the epidemic of prescription drug abuse that is ravaging West Virginia and our country, Manchin said. "He will not have the impact or leadership capabilities that the nation needs to stem the tide of the opioid crisis.

In recent days, three of Manchin's Senate colleagues - Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. - have placed a hold on the nomination, even though a Senate committee approved Obama's selection earlier this month.

Manchin becomes the first senator to announce he plans to use a filibuster to block Califf's nomination. A filibuster is stronger than a "hold, which can be overcome by 60 votes.

Manchin vowed to "come to the floor and read letters from West Virginians whose lives have been devastated by painkiller addiction.

"I will read letters from children who have seen their parents die from an overdose, Manchin said. "I will read letters from grandparents who have been forced to raise their grandchildren when their kids went to jail, rehab and the grave. I will read letters from West Virginians who need help from the FDA.

Senators have raised questions about Califf's ties to the drug industry.

In 2006, Califf established a research group at Duke University that conducted numerous studies for the world's largest drugmakers. More than half of the group's funding came from the drug industry. …

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