Senate clears way for approval of new FDA commissioner

WASHINGTON – The Senate has voted to end a Democratic filibuster of President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Ed Markey of Massachusetts have held up the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf in an effort to force the agency to be tougher on prescription drug prices and the abuse of opioid painkillers.

The Senate voted 80-6 to end debate and move to the confirmation vote. That could come as early as Tuesday.

Califf was a prominent cardiologist and medical researcher at Duke University for more than 30 years. He is now the No. 2 official at the FDA.