In what might turn out to be an odd mistake, the current US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Rob Califf was included in a database of pharmaceutical company payments to physicians updated by the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Thursday.
The database says Califf received five payments from GlaxoSmithKline for travel, lodging, food and beverages, as well as a more than $5,000 consulting fee from AstraZeneca in 2015. In 2014, when he was not working for FDA, Califf received almost $32,000 from companies and in 2013, he received more than $28,000.
An FDA spokesperson told Focus: “We can’t immediately confirm the accuracy of data that dates back to 2015, but Commissioner Califf wasn’t on travel or at such an event on that date. Throughout his government service, he has strictly adhered to federal ethics requirements and has no financial ties to industry. We are examining whether the entry was made in error.”
An FDA spokesperson later told Focus: "Commissioner Califf has filed a dispute with CMS in regard to the
reported data. Throughout his government service, he has strictly adhered
to federal ethics requirements and has no financial ties to industry. We
look forward to the data being corrected."
As The New York Times reported in September 2015, ahead of his confirmation as commissioner, Califf has received about $215,000 in consulting fees from 2009 to early 2015, though as many physicians note, academic doctors are often paid consulting fees as their universities conduct clinical research.
And though Califf is the only FDA leader listed (that Focus could find), former commissioner under President George H. W. Bush, David Kessler, received $40,000 from Immucor, while FDA’s commissioner under George W. Bush, Andrew Von Eschenbach, received more than $50,000 from Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Eli Lilly and E.R. Squibb and Sons.
FDA’s former deputy commissioner for medical and scientific affairs Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, also was included in the database and pulled in $199,951 in 2015, including more than $60,000 from GlaxoSmithKline, more than $50,000 from Daiichi Sankyo and more than $65,000 from Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Gottlieb told Focus that he sits on the GSK research and development board, serves on the board of directors for Daiichi and acts as a senior adviser to Vertex.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on 7/5/16 with the latest quote from FDA's spokesman saying Califf has filed a dispute with CMS over the funds listed in the database for 2015.