Biden picks leading foe of pharmaceutical industry as health secretary

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden picked Robert Califf, a nationally respected physician and former member of his “Coffee Gang,” as the new health secretary on Monday.

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His selection represents the latest step in the Obama administration’s efforts to pressure the pharmaceutical industry to voluntarily change the way it promotes prescription drugs, after repeated admonitions from Biden on multiple occasions over the past several years.

The move comes amid mounting frustration over drug prices from federal, state and local governments.

“As secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Califf will bring his wealth of experience and deep commitment to improving health care to lead our efforts to improve patient outcomes and lower costs,” Biden said in a statement. “He will be a steady voice for our country’s vital public health missions, including supporting and improving the nation’s efforts to prevent, identify, contain and treat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.”

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