Durbin Statement On Confirmation Of Dr. Robert Califf To Lead FDA

Durbin reiterates that Dr. Califf, now confirmed, must finally use FDA authority to protect kids, regulate e-cigarette industry

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement after voting in favor of Dr. Califf’s confirmation:


“The person leading FDA must feel a deep sense of responsibility to protect the health and well-being of all Americans, including to help lead our COVID-19 response and ensure the safety of food on our tables and medicine in our cabinets.  I have made clear to Dr. Califf that he must fix the failures of his predecessors and use his authority as FDA Commissioner to regulate the tobacco and e-cigarette industries that have fueled the youth vaping epidemic.  Whether its deceptive claims from opioid manufacturers or predatory tactics by vaping companies, we need a FDA that puts public health first. It is long overdue.”


Durbin met with Dr. Califf in December and again in February to discuss concerns over the FDA’s longstanding delays in enforcing its authority against tobacco and e-cigarette products that are being peddled to children.  As a result of FDA’s enforcement failures against flavored, kid-friendly e-cigarettes such as JUUL, millions of children are addicted to nicotine—erasing years of progress on reducing youth smoking rates.  For decades, Durbin has led Congressional efforts to investigate and regulate tobacco products, especially kid-friendly e-cigarettes.


During their meetings, Durbin also discussed the FDA’s role in the COVID-19 response; his 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.