Senate HELP Committee Advances FDA Commissioner Nomination to Full Senate

In a 13-8 vote last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf, who President Joseph Biden nominated in November to serve as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner. While several lawmakers noted concerns over Dr. Califf’s connection to the pharmaceutical industry and planned to vote against his nomination at the upcoming full Senate vote, many have expressed their support, citing confidence in Dr. Califf’s experience in clinical research and trials and his previous tenure at FDA. Dr. Califf, who served as FDA Commissioner for one year under President Barack Obama and founded the Duke Clinical Research Institute, is a cardiologist by training and most recently serves as the head of clinical strategy for biotechnology companies Verily Life Sciences and Google Health.

Articles & Resources

Roll Call – Senate Health panel advances Califf to lead FDA

Bloomberg Government – Biden’s FDA Nominee Moves to Full Senate on Committee Vote


Representatives Urge House Leaders to Prioritize Legislation to Address Fentanyl Trafficking

In response to annual overdose deaths in the United States in 2021 reaching over 100,000, 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to House leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Kevin McCarthy urging them to prioritize Congressional actions to stop fentanyl trafficking. In their letter, the lawmakers called on the leaders to pass legislation to permanently classify fentanyl analogues as Schedule I substances, strengthen international collaborations to stop trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit substances, and provide new tools and resources to law enforcement and public health experts to help curb the opioid epidemic. A copy of the letter can be found here.

Articles & Resources

Congressman Chris Pappas – Pappas, Buchanan Lead Bipartisan Call to Stop Fentanyl Trafficking

CDC – Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S. Top 100,000 Annually


What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

AAFP – Telehealth Key to Maintaining Access to Addiction Recovery

Bloomberg Government – Narcan vending machines target opioid overdose crisis

FDA – FDA warns about risks of dental problems associated with buprenorphine medicines dissolved in the mouth to treat opioid use disorder and pain

Forbes – Crypto Increasingly Used In Human/Drug Trafficking Says GAO

JAMA Network Open – Disparities by Sex and Race and Ethnicity in Death Rates Due to Opioid Overdose Among Adults 55 Years or Older, 1999 to 2019

LexBlog – Medicare Telehealth and Substance Use Disorder Treatment FAQs: New CMS Reimbursement Requirements

National Academy of Medicine – Methadone Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder: Examining Federal Regulations

Pharmacy Times – Patient Engagement May Help Prevent Drug Interactions, Related Opioid Overdoses

Pulitzer Center – Hope Above All Else: Innovating To Save Lives During the Opioid Epidemic

Rockefeller Institute of Government – State and Federal Priorities for Drug Policy: Using Translational Research to Develop Effective Policy

Senator Angus King – “An Absolute Tragedy” – King Urges Pentagon to Take Action on Opioid Shipments

Senator Ed Markey – Senator Markey Outlines Opposition to FDA Commissioner Nominee Dr. Robert Califf, Calls For Reforms At FDA to Address Failures That Lead to, Worsened Opioid Epidemic

The Washington Post – A forgotten approach to drug addiction recovery may yield results today

Time – Older Americans Are the Ignored Victims of the Opioid Epidemic

Wisconsin NPR – Increased access to Narcan, easier testing for fentanyl raised as ways to stop opioid deaths


This Week’s Calendar

In the week ahead, there are no relevant events or hearings noticed at this time. In the event that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.


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