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Califf still on track for FDA appointment

By Emily Ford
eford@salisburypost.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Former U.S. Sen. Tom Daschle’s abrupt departure Tuesday as the nominee for health secretary should not derail Dr. Rob Califf’s chances to become the next Food and Drug Administration commissioner, a former FDA staffer said.
“It should not slow down the process,” said Dr. Peter Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner. “The president needs to show that health care is still a priority.”
President Barack Obama is considering tapping Califf, a cardiologist and the author of Duke University’s medical research study based in Kannapolis and Durham, as FDA commissioner.
Appointing someone now would show that Obama expects the FDA commissioner to work independently, said Pitts, president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest.
The White House said on Friday, before Daschle stepped down, that Obama would tap someone to lead the FDA within days.
Califf, who was in Kannapolis Tuesday working at the Research Campus, declined to be interviewed.
If appointed and approved, he would inherit a troubled agency plagued most recently by tainted peanuts that have made more than 500 people sick.
Califf leads the medical study named for Research Campus founder David Murdock, who gave Duke $35 million in 2007 to launch the project.
Researchers want to improve the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illnesses like heart disease, arthritis and liver disease with help from 50,000 Cabarrus County and Kannapolis residents.

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