Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Today's New York Times reports that Dr. Lester Crawford, the acting head of the Food and Drug Administration, has received final senate approval and is now officially the head of that agency. His confirmation had been delayed by controversy surrounding the contraceptive device, Plan B, as well as rumors about an affair with a colleague. The only remaining concern was voiced by Senator Grassley. According to the Times,
The only hitch in the vote, which was hastily arranged and quickly completed, came when Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is chairman of the Finance Committee, rose to criticize Dr. Crawford, who has been serving as acting commissioner.
Mr. Grassley, who has used his committee's wide powers to investigate the F.D.A. over the past 18 months, has become a vocal critic of the agency's ability to assure the safety of the nation's drug supply.
"It is becoming more and more obvious to me that F.D.A. is plagued by structural, personnel, cultural and scientific problems," Mr. Grassley said. "Those problems should be equally obvious to Dr. Crawford, but under the leadership of Dr. Crawford the F.D.A. appears to be in a state of denial."
Mr. Enzi responded that Dr. Crawford has not had full authority to deal with the challenges confronting the agency. Among them have been the withdrawals of several drugs from the market and controversies over whether the agency had acted quickly enough to inform consumers about dangers involving popular medicines like the pain pill Vioxx and antidepressants like Zoloft.