FDA chief admits to “cheerleading” Pfizer’s antiviral drug Paxlovid
The latest admission by the FDA commissioner has renewed concerns that the agency lacks independence and that it cannot be trusted.
In a recent interview, FDA commissioner Robert Califf admitted to helping Pfizer promote its antiviral drug ‘Paxlovid.’
“I felt that I had an obligation as a public health official, to point out that the evidence was strong,” said Califf during the medical ground round discussion at UCSF.
Califf acknowledged that it wasn’t accepted practice for the FDA to promote products the agency regulated, but said the world was undergoing extenuating circumstances.
“I don't think any FDA commissioner alive has been through a pandemic like this. I think this is a very unusual situation,” said Califf.
“In normal times, the FDA should not be a cheerleader, the FDA is a referee calling balls and strikes…. but in this case, we were in the middle of a pandemic, people were dying at very high rates,” he said.
Califf explained that Pfizer was not able to advertise Paxlovid because, under section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, drug companies cannot advertise their products unless they are fully approved.