Note: President Obama has had one of the most corporate administration’s in history. He put a Monsanto executive in charge of food policy. He surrounded himself with Wall Streeters to determine his economic policy. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is a revolving door of commissioners from the energy industry. Now, he may have even topped his corporatist record by appointing a big pharma profiteer to become the head of the Food and Drug Administration at a time when pharmaceutical prices are outragreous leading to the most expensive and dysfunctional health care system of any developed nation. Why, in the last year of his administration, is he giving the reigns of power over prescription drugs to a big pharma lobbyist who has spent his career helping pharmaceuticals avoid regulation? It is a sign of the deep corruption of the Obama administration and the government to big business interests. KZ
Petition to the U.S. Senate:
Add your name:
Americans pay the highest prices for prescription drugs of anywhere in the world – and the cost is going up, 12% on average in the last year and in some cases nearly 1,000%.1
The problem is bigger than profit vultures like former hedge fund “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. Giant pharmaceutical companies spend millions on lobbyists to defend their monopolies and benefit from trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.2 Instead of fighting for lower prices, Congress and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) routinely side with Big Pharma.
We need an FDA chief with the guts to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies. But instead, President Obama has nominated Robert Califf, a doctor described as “the ultimate industry insider.”3 Sen. Bernie Sanders recently made waves by announcing he would oppose Califf’s nomination, and we need to demand the rest of the Senate follow his lead.4
According to the New York Times, Dr. Califf “has deeper ties to the pharmaceutical industry than any F.D.A. commissioner in recent memory.” He has an extensive record of close collaboration with pharmaceutical giants, and recently described regulation as a “barrier,” not a safeguard for public health. While he donates his Big Pharma speaking and consulting fees to charity, his lucrative salary at Duke University is directly supported by companies like Merck, Novartis, and Eli Lilly.5
In fact, in the conflict of interest section of one recent article, Califf admitted to receiving financial support from more than 20 companies.6 No matter how good a doctor he is or how fair he attempts to be, Califf is simply too connected to industry. If he becomes the next head of the FDA, his former sponsors and friends in the pharmaceutical industry will have a friendly ear in a major position of power, threatening our financial well-being and physical health.
This is exactly how big corporations go about capturing control. It’s no wonder that Sen. Sanders declared that Califf simply wasn’t someone who is “prepared to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies and work to substantially lower drug prices.”7 But reports indicate that President Obama nominated Califf deliberately to avoid a fight with Republicans in the Senate, and that Senate Democrats have yet to line up to oppose him.8 We need a major outcry right now, before it is too late.
Big Pharma deploys armies of lobbyists to increase profits, even at the expense of our safety. The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes years of excessive patent protection for the pharmaceutical industry. Congress has passed multiple bills to speed up FDA approvals, including allowing drug companies to conduct their own tests – even though some estimate that 85-90% of the new drugs on the market since the 1990’s don’t deliver better clinical performance, but simply make money for their creators. And meanwhile, the industry has been wracked with scandals over drug safety and hidden risks.9
We can’t let Big Pharma get away with installing an industry insider as head of the Federal Drug Administration. The Senate must block this nomination.
Tell the Senate: No Big Pharma ally as FDA chief. Click below to sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out,
Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
Add your name: