President Bush Will Nominate von Eschenbach as Permanent FDA Director

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President Bush Will Nominate von Eschenbach as Permanent FDA Director Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 10, 2006

Washington, DC ( — President George W. Bush is planning to nominate acting Food and Drug Administration director Andrew von Eschenbach as the permanent commissioner of the agency. In September 2005, Bush named von Eschenbach, then director of the National Cancer Institute, as the acting commissioner.

Von Eschenbach replaced Lester Crawford, who resigned after coming under fire from abortion advocates over the delay of allowing the sale of the Plan B drugs without a prescription. However, Crawford also had some personal issues that may have led to his leaving.

Should Bush nominate him for the permanent FDA commissioner position, von Eschenbach’s nomination would need Senate approval. He would likely be sharply questioned by abortion advocates about the delay in approving the over the counter status for the morning after pill.

He would also be questioned by pro-life lawmakers who want to know why the Food and Drug Administration has not pulled the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug from the market. It has been found to be responsible for the deaths of five women in the U.S. and eight worldwide and has injured over 850 women in the U.S. alone.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control are planning an upcoming conference to determine why the abortion drug causes lethal bacterial infections for four California women, who all died within days of using it.

Observers suggest Planned Parenthood abortion businesses are deviating from FDA guidelines, which recommend using the abortion drug orally. The abortion centers are telling women to use the drug vaginally and at different dosages than the FDA suggests.

Last month, von Eschenbach told abortion advocates in Congress that the agency’s decision to delay approval of over the counter sales of the morning after pill is not a political decision.

Von Eschenbach spoke during a meeting of a House appropriations subcommittee to discuss the agency’s budget.

He said he wasn’t sure when the agency would hand down its decision on the request to sell the pills without a prescription.

"That process will be carried out in the appropriate fashion," he said.

He repeated the reason given by other FDA officials — that the agency is confronting a new set of issues because Barr Labs, the maker of the drug, wants to sell the drug over the counter but only to women above the age of 16.

The FDA has said this request presents unusual enforcement questions by having the drug be sold over the counter to most women but remaining a prescription-only drug for younger teens.

The appointment of von Eschenbach was met with some skepticism because of his leadership post at NCI.

The cancer agency has been criticized by pro-life advocates because it has dismissed the link between abortion and breast cancer and pulled down such information from its web site after lobbying by pro-abortion groups.