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Senate HELP Committee Approves FDA Nominee

Robert Califf, the president's pick to lead the Food and Drug Administration, is expected to get full Senate confirmation easily. However, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, voted against him, citing concerns with Califf's pharmaceutical ties.

Reuters: Obama Nominee To Lead FDA Wins Backing From Senate Committee
President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf, won backing from a Senate committee on Tuesday as its members shrugged off criticism from consumer watchdogs that he is too closely linked with the pharmaceutical industry to lead the agency impartially. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted to confirm Califf as FDA Commissioner, a position that has been open since Dr. Margaret Hamburg stepped down last February. The nomination must now be approved by the full Senate. He is widely expected to be confirmed. (Clarke, 1/12)

The Hill: Sanders Votes Against Obama's FDA Nominee
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) voted Tuesday against President Obama’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), citing concerns over his ties to the pharmaceutical industry. A Republican-led Senate panel advanced Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination to the full floor for final approval, despite Sanders’ opposition. (Devaney, 1/12)

The Associated Press: Senate Panel Approves Dr. Robert Califf As FDA Commissioner
Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she will hold up a vote on the Senate floor until she has reassurances from the agency that it will write rules for labeling genetically modified salmon. The Alaska Republican has said the engineered salmon approved by the FDA last year could be harmful to her state's wild salmon industry. Califf is now the No. 2 official at the agency, which regulates consumer products from medications to seafood to e-cigarettes. (Jalonick, 1/12)

In other news from Capitol Hill, Republicans are launching an overreach probe and a committee report looks at infections tied to medical scopes —

The Associated Press: House GOP In Election-Year Probe Of Presidential 'Overreach'
House Republicans said Tuesday that they will launch an election-year study of what they say has been executive overreach by President Barack Obama and other recent presidents. ... The House GOP is pursuing a federal lawsuit accusing the president of unconstitutionally spending money that Congress has not approved for his health care overhaul. (Fram, 1/12)

The Seattle Times: Infections Tied To Medical Scopes Higher Than Previously Thought
The toll of potentially deadly infections tied to contaminated medical scopes is far higher than federal investigators previously estimated, according to a U.S. Senate committee report being released early Wednesday. In less than three years, between 2012 and spring 2015, at least 25 incidents of antibiotic-resistant infections linked to specialized duodenoscopes sickened at least 250 people worldwide, most at U.S. hospitals. (Aleccia, 1/13)

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