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Manchin Opposes Biden's Pick to Lead FDA, Calls His Nomination an 'Insult'

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President Joe Biden is losing the support of a key Democratic senator for his choice to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

On Friday morning, Politico reported that Biden would nominate Dr. Robert Califf to lead the agency. In order for his nomination to clear the Senate, he would need all 50 Democratic senators to vote for his confirmation if no Republicans join them.

However, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said in a statement, “Dr. Califf’s nomination makes no sense as the opioid epidemic continues to wreak havoc on families across this country with no end in sight. 2020 was the deadliest year on record for drug related overdose deaths with 1,386 West Virginians and nearly 95,000 Americans dying from a drug related overdose.”

“I have made it abundantly clear that correcting the culture at the FDA Is critical to changing the tide of the opioid epidemic. Instead, Mr. Califf’s nomination and his significant ties to the pharmaceutical industry take us backwards not forward. His nomination is an insult to the many families and individuals who have had their lives changed forever as a result of addiction,” he continued.

Finally, Manchin said, “I could not support Dr. Califf’s nomination in 2016 and I cannot support it now. I urge the Administration to nominate an FDA Commissioner that understands the gravity of the prescription drug epidemic and the role of the FDA in fighting back against the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.”

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Read the statement below:

Politico reported that Califf, who served as the FDA commission under former President Barack Obama, “was not originally the White House’s top pick.”

However, “He emerged as Biden’s choice in recent weeks after the administration had vetted or spoken to roughly a dozen other people about the job, according to a person familiar with the selection process.”

Additionally, the outlet noted that he is “likely to face some opposition throughout the confirmation process over his own industry connections and role in the FDA’s past work on opioids. Since 2019, he has helped lead health policy at Google parent company Alphabet — a role that could draw scrutiny from the Senate‘s left flank.”

Without Manchin’s vote and any Republican support, his nomination would fail to pass the Senate.

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