Dr. Monica Bertagnolli’s nomination to become the next director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is making progress, despite facing opposition from Senator Bernie Sanders. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) voted 15 in favor and six against her nomination, with Sanders joining five Republicans in voting against her.
After a long wait, Dr. Monica Bertagnolli is expected to receive a vote in the Senate committee regarding her nomination to lead the NIH. However, Senator Bernie Sanders has announced his intention to vote against her confirmation.
In a statement, Sanders expressed his concerns, stating, “Dr. Monica Bertagnolli is an intelligent and caring person, but has not convinced me that she is prepared to take on the greed and power of the drug companies and health care industry. I intend to vote NO at her confirmation hearing on Wednesday. This should be a vote of conscience, and I have not asked any member of the Committee to follow my lead.”
A markup for her nomination is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m., followed by a vote. While she may still secure the vote, it is not expected to be unanimous.
The position of NIH director has remained vacant since December 2021 when Dr. Francis Collins, the longest-serving NIH director, stepped down. President Joe Biden nominated Bertagnolli, the head of the National Cancer Institute, in the spring of 2023.
The nomination process faced delays as Senator Sanders, who chairs the committee, sought greater action and concessions from the Biden administration on addressing high drug prices before proceeding with Bertagnolli’s nomination.
During the committee hearing on October 18, Senator Sanders emphasized his concerns about prescription drug prices, despite the NIH having limited control over this issue.
In his statement, Senator Sanders criticized the U.S. healthcare system as dysfunctional and costly, particularly with the country’s high prescription drug prices, which he described as significantly higher than in other nations.