The Senate, in a 50-46 vote, confirmed Dr. Robert Califf as President Biden’s pick to lead the FDA. During the confirmation vote, some Senators took issue with Dr. Califf’s handling of the opioid crisis as former head of the FDA under the Obama Administration. Dr. Califf’s stated primary focus for the agency will be the handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and preparation for any future outbreaks. Dr. Califf takes over for Dr. Janet Woodcock, who had been serving as the agency’s acting Commissioner for the past year. Dr. Woodcock will transition into another role within the agency.
The Senate also recently confirmed Judge Leonard Stark, from the District of Delaware, to replace retiring Judge Kathleen O’Malley on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Judge Stark has served on the District Court of Delaware since 2010, when he was appointed by President Obama. Judge Stark hails from the patent heavy District of Delaware, and he replaces Judge O’Malley as the only judge on the Federal Circuit with experience as a trial judge. These factors may have contributed to his strong 61-35 vote confirmation by the Senate.