Durbin Meets With President Biden's Nominee To Lead FDA, Robert Califf

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met virtually with President Biden’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Robert Califf.  During their meeting, Durbin pressed Dr. Califf on his thoughts regarding FDA’s overall tobacco strategy and its delays in several public health oversight policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use; Durbin’s bipartisan drug pricing legislation, the Drug-price Transparency for Competition (DTC) Act; how to help terminally ill patients access new treatments; and legislation to require dietary supplement manufacturers to list their products with the FDA.  For decades, Durbin has led Congressional efforts to investigate and regulate tobacco products, especially kid-friendly e-cigarettes. 

“It is my belief that any person leading FDA—the federal agency tasked with ensuring the safety of food on our tables and medicine in our cabinets, as well as regulating the tobacco industry—must feel a deep sense of responsibility to protect the health and well-being of all Americans, especially our nation’s children,” Durbin said.  “Congress has given FDA the tools to protect public health, but every tobacco effort gets delayed.  In our meeting today, I urged Dr. Califf that, if he is confirmed, he use his authority as FDA commissioner to protect our children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”

Durbin’s bipartisan Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act would require that e-cigarette manufacturers pay user fees to FDA to help to fund more activity at FDA to conduct stronger oversight of the e-cigarette industry and increase awareness for the danger of e-cigarettes.  And in 2019, Durbin and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to crack down on kid-friendly flavorings in highly-addictive e-cigarettes and cigars.  Durbin has also introduced the Tobacco Tax Equity Act to update and strengthen federal tobacco taxes to ensure they remain effective public health tools to prevent and reduce tobacco use.