Califf confirmed: The Senate confirmed Dr. Robert Califf to lead the Food and Drug Administration in a tight 50-46 vote after some lawmakers raised concerns about the opioid epidemic, abortion pills and his connections with the drug industry. Dr. Janet Woodcock, who served as acting commissioner for more than a year, will become the FDA’s second-in-command.
Global vaccinations: The Biden administration will offer more than $250 million in “intensive support” for COVID-19 vaccination in 11 sub-Saharan African countries in an effort to get shots in arms amid concerns over infrastructure and logistical challenges. The announcement came after White House press secretary Jen Psaki said some countries have had to turn down vaccine donations from the United States because of these “hyper-local issues,” and after Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged that 70 percent of the globe likely won’t be vaccinated by later this year, falling short of the administration’s goal.
Pandemic response: As existing COVID-19 relief funding runs dry, the Biden administration asked Congress for another $30 billion in pandemic response aid, according to people familiar with the matter. The request includes $17.9 billion for antiviral treatments and other medical supplies, $4.9 billion for testing and $2.7 billion to fight future variants.
PBMs: The Federal Trade Commission won’t move forward with a study examining how pharmacy benefit managers’ controversial business practices affect independent and specialty pharmacies, after commissioners tied in a 2-2 vote. The decision angered pharmacy groups, which say PBMs hurt local competition and impose opaque fees that inflate drug prices, though one analyst said it’s likely the FTC will return to the issue.