- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Lester M. Crawford’s nomination to head the Food and Drug Administration won committee approval yesterday, although it could still face some rough sledding before reaching the full Senate.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved the nomination on a voice vote. No date has been set for full Senate consideration of Dr. Crawford, acting commissioner of the agency. He is a veterinarian and a pharmacologist by training.

Sens. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, placed a hold on the nomination of Dr. Crawford, blocking immediate consideration if it.

Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Murray are concerned that the FDA has not made a final decision on allowing sales, without a doctor’s prescription, of a morning-after contraceptive pill called Plan B.

The hold will remain in effect until the FDA issues a decision on the emergency contraceptive, they said. An FDA advisory committee recommended 24-3 that Plan B be approved for over-the-counter sales, but the FDA has not made a final determination.

The National Partnership for Women and Families, a health care advocacy group, issued a statement saying it opposes approval of Dr. Crawford until the FDA acts on Plan B.

Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, also placed a hold, his office announced. He has opposed the nomination, contending that as acting commissioner, Dr. Crawford has not been aggressive enough in implementing changes in the labeling of condoms.

Yesterday, committee Chairman Michael B. Enzi, Wyoming Republican, urged his colleagues to “put isolated disagreements aside and work together to confirm Dr. Crawford as soon as possible so that he can take charge, take action, and take responsibility for leading the FDA.”

En route to committee approval, Dr. Crawford survived an anonymous accusation that he had an extramarital affair with an agency employee and that she received favorable treatment as a result. The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services investigated the report and said he found no evidence that it was true.

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