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  • Ricki Chase

FDA's Dr. Califf Calls on Amplifiers to Help Combat Misinformation

The Food and Drug Law Institute's annual meeting is held this week in Washington, D.C. The meeting has a robust agenda of discussion topics presented by US FDA, Food and Drug Lawyers, and Industry partners.

The program opened on Wednesday with a fireside chat with FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf. The topic of misinformation and its impact on public health was at the forefront of Dr. Califf's and the audience's minds, as was made clear by the discussions on the matter that followed throughout Wednesday's program.

In his address, Dr. Califf provided a clear perspective on the FDA's role. He likened the FDA to a referee, not a rule-maker, but an entity that adjudicates decisions based on those rules. While he acknowledged the importance of collaboration, he reiterated that the FDA is primarily a regulatory authority entrusted with enforcing the industry's compliance with the rules.

In further elaboration, Dr. Califf stated that the government cannot tell people what to say and that there is a fine line between advertising and misinformation. The public needs a stronger voice to ensure reliable information upon which to base their critical health decisions. Societal information provided in a highly technical and advancing globally connected world has the power to both inform and misinform.

Amplifiers, those who diligently seek and disseminate critical information based on robust and defensible science, play a crucial role. These voices are increasingly emerging from friends, family, and personal care providers, as public trust in government wanes. Dr. Califf's call to action for these amplifiers is clear-to continue their quest for truth in information and to use their influence to spread that truth, thereby empowering them to contribute to the betterment of public health in this era of vast technological advancements.

Dr. Califf went on to address questions regarding the proposed menthol cigarette ban rule, the recently finalized rule for laboratory-derived tests (LDTs), the growing use of artificial intelligence, and the changes to the FDA's organizational structure, including the Office of Regulatory Affairs.

The chat closed with a poignant call to arms. Dr. Califf implored the audience and all people to allocate time for the betterment of the country and its people. As the country moves to a more financialized construct, the drive for money is leaving the health and well-being of the country and its citizens behind.

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