HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Monday, May 1, 2006

Former Head of FDA Faces Criminal Investigation

So now we know why Dr. Crawford left his job at the FDA so suddenly.  He is currently under criminal investigation by a federal grand jury for alleged financial improprieties and false statements to Congress.  According to the New York Times, the timeline is as follows:

Dr. Crawford resigned in September, fewer than three months after the Senate confirmed him. He said then that it was time for someone else to lead the agency.

The next month, financial disclosure forms released by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that in 2004 either Dr. Crawford or his wife, Catherine, had sold shares in companies regulated by the agency when he was its deputy commissioner and acting commissioner. He has since joined a Washington lobbying firm, Policy Directions Inc.

The criminal investigation was disclosed at a court hearing in a lawsuit over the F.D.A.'s actions on the emergency contraceptive Plan B, a subject of bitter contention during Dr. Crawford's tenure as acting commissioner and commissioner. After the pill's maker, Barr Laboratories, applied three years ago to sell the pill over the counter, the agency repeatedly delayed making a decision on the application. . . .

An advocacy group, the Center for Reproductive Rights, sued the agency in federal court in New York over the delays. Many such suits are quickly dismissed, but a federal judge allowed the case to proceed, giving the center the right to interview top F.D.A. officials, including Dr. Crawford.

Dr. Crawford was scheduled to be questioned under oath on Thursday, but on Wednesday Ms. Van Gelder, who is his personal lawyer, asked for a delay, saying she would instruct him to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. Dr. Crawford previously declined to answer questions from the Government Accountability Office about Plan B.

Ms. Van Gelder told Magistrate Judge Viktor V. Pohorelsky of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Thursday that Dr. Crawford had been represented by Justice Department lawyers in the reproductive rights center's suit.

According to the transcript, she said that Dr. Crawford was under criminal investigation and that the issue of his financial disclosures "is within the grand jury."

Should be an interesting case to watch!  [bm]

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