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Stu Johnson

FDA chief touches on many issues during Lexington visit

The head of the Food and Drug Administration says more needs to be done in the area of treatment for pain. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf came to Lexington to participate in University of Kentucky Healthcare’s 60 Anniversary Symposium. Califf said a focus should be placed on non-addictive treatments for pain.

“We need something besides opioids that would be highly effective. We don’t have it now. I don’t think the industry has come up…the pipeline doesn’t look as good as I would hope it would. We’re going to be thinking a lot about how to stimulate that,” said Califf.

Asked about a federal initiative to see medicinal cannabis legalization nationally, Califf said he’s not confident of societal consensus on it.

Califf noted he didn’t fully appreciate the addictiveness of nicotine during his years of work in cardiology. The FDA chief added his federal agency is proposing to get rid of menthol flavored cigarettes.

“But as you know a lot of people have heavily marketed menthol products. So, get rid of that and you’re pretty much left with tobacco-flavored tobacco. That’s gonna, I think, be a disincentive for people to continue to use it,” said Califf.

During his presentation, the FDA chief spoke about the biggest cause of death being tied to internet misinformation. Califf said part of that rests with social media commentary about COVID vaccinations. Califf also said high-tech medical care is great, but it doesn’t always reach those most in need.

Califf touched on several topics. He the U.S. life expectancy is now about five years shorter than other peer countries. Califf said heart disease is going in the wrong direction. In the area of medical research, the FDA official said spending lots of money guessing what’s going to work isn’t good enough.

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