Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersCNN suspends Donna Brazile as she takes DNC role Carson EXCLUSIVE: Trump uniquely suited to this American moment Trump manager: Clinton should follow Wasserman Schultz’s lead and resign 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.
Sanders places hold on Obama's FDA nominee
"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 MarkeyFCC chief pushes phone companies to offer free robocall blocking Markey floats bill bringing internet to developing world Overnight Tech: First on The Hill – Key senators team up against robocalls | Social media giants back revenge porn bill | Facebook's diversity numbers 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.