Sanders places hold on Obama's FDA nominee

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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Trail 2016: Who is really winning? The evidence backs Trump: We have a duty to doubt election results A Good Year to Go Green (Party) MORE (I-Vt.) is formally blocking President Obama’s pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after announcing his opposition late last year.  

"Dr. [Robert] Califf’s extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry give me no reason to believe that he would make the FDA work for ordinary Americans, rather than just the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies,” Sanders, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday. 
He added that he's placed a hold on Califf's nomination because "we need a leader at the FDA who is prepared to stand up to drug companies." 
Sander's announcement comes a day after Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySanders, Dem senators press Obama to halt ND pipeline Senate Dems ask Obama to block Atlantic, Arctic offshore drilling Federal agency under fire for selling recalled cars MORE (D-Mass.) said that he would block Califf's nomination until the agency changes its approval process for opioid painkillers. 
The Vermont senator noted that he shares Markey's concerns and that the FDA "must change the way it approaches addiction" because "too many Americans are dying from what has become an opioid epidemic." 
Sanders said late last year that he wouldn't support Obama's FDA nominee, suggesting Califf would be loyal to pharamacutical companies. The industry has been a frequent target of Sanders's presidential campaign. 
He also voted against Califf's nomination earlier this month during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Despite some pushback from the left, the committee advanced Califf's nomination, with top lawmakers in both parties supporting him.
Sanders said Tuesday that the next FDA chief must work to lower drug prices, move forward with rules to "safely import brand-name drugs from Canada and hold companies accountable who defraud our government." 
Califf, a cardiologist and longtime Duke University researcher, has been a deputy commissioner at the FDA since February. He was nominated by Obama to be the agency's next commissioner in September.