Dr. Robert Califf and the future of the FDA: 4 key takeaways

Last month, the Senate confirmed Robert Califf, MD, to lead the Food and Drug Administration. In a recent interview Dr. Califf discussed his plans for the FDA with U.S. News and World Report.

Here are four key takeaways from Dr. Califf's interview with U.S. News.

1. Dr. Califf on the opioid epidemic: "We are going to be dealing with opioids every day, until everyone's convinced that the tide has turned and the problem is receding significantly... the fundamental issue right now is over-prescribing and FDA has a major role to play. The guidelines say prescribe fewer opioids. Don't neglect people in significant and chronic pain, but prescribe fewer opioids," Dr. Califf told U.S. News. The new FDA commissioner also said his organization will collaborate with the CDC on the issue.

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2. Prioritizing talent: When asked what was at the top of his agenda, Dr. Califf answered, "The workforce. We have a tremendous workforce that has done a pretty amazing job across the ecosystem from agriculture to medical products. We're going to need to reinforce that by hiring really good people and creating the best possible environment to retain the really great people that we have."

3. The future of cancer treatment: When asked about the current state of cancer treatment, Dr. Califf said, "The ability to implement targeted chemotherapy and immunotherapy appears to be revolutionary. But it appears that it is not a magic bullet... we really are at war with cancer: We fire our salvo in terms of therapy, and the cancer responds by adapting and changing its tactics. Then we have to go after it again. For many kinds of cancer, we now, for the first time, have effective treatments. But...many people need additional treatment as time goes on."

4. Cost of drugs: In regards to concern about drug prices, Dr. Califf said, "The fact that over 90 percent of prescriptions are now [lower-cost] generics is a major victory. It's critical for us to keep the pipeline of generics healthy."

More articles on quality: 
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athenahealth adds patient safety to employee training in 2016

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