Former FDA Commissioner Crawford: My Decision to Delay Morning After Pill

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 25, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Former FDA Commissioner Crawford: My Decision to Delay Morning After Pill Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 25, 2006

Washington, DC ( — Former FDA commissioner Lester Crawford, who recently stepped down from his post for personal reasons, said it was his decision to delay a request to sell the morning after pill over the counter. The decision riled pro-abortion activists who are delaying a Senate vote on his successor.

Crawford divulged his decision in a deposition in a case filed by abortion advocates who have sued the federal agency over its delay in approving a request to sell the Plan B drug to women over the age of 16 without a doctor’s visit.

His attorney Barbara Van Gelder told Newsday that "it was his decision" to keep the drug off of store shelves.

"He answered all questions about Plan B," Van Gelder said and indicated she had no more details about his testimony, which was taken privately.

Attorneys for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion law firm, took Crawford’s deposition. They sued the FDA to get the drug, which can sometimes cause an abortion, approved for nonprescription sales. The state of Wisconsin has joined the lawsuit.

Newsday reported that Crawford failed to show for a deposition last month and indicated he would have used his Fifth Amendment right not to say anything. At the time, his attorney cited a possible criminal investigation, because his financial investments were under scrutiny — which is what caused Crawford to tender his resignation.

Following Crawford’s resignation, President Bush appointed Andrew von Eschenbach, head of the National Cancer Institute, as the acting commissioner and nominated him to head the FDA.

However, pro-abortion Democrats Sen. Hillary Clinton, of New York, and Patty Murray, of Washington, have put a hold on von Eschenbach’s nomination until the agency makes a decision on the morning after pill.

Initially, Barr Laboratories, the maker of the Plan B drug, submitted an application to sell it without a prescription. FDA officials declined the request, saying the company didn’t provide enough information about the drug’s effects on teenagers.

The FDA told Barr it could submit a new request selling the drug only to women above the age of 16. Barr resubmitted its proposal to do that and the FDA has repeatedly declined to make a final determination since then.

Crawford told Congress that a final decision would be rendered on the drug in September 2005, which prompted Murray Clinton to lift their hold on his nomination.

While abortion advocates have claimed the FDA’s delays in approving the morning after pill are political, the FDA said the unique request to sell the drug only to women over 16 presents challenging enforcement issues that it is trying to resolve.

Meanwhile, the FDA has also come under question from pro-life groups who want to know why the agency has not pulled the dangerous abortion drug RU 486. It has been responsible for the deaths of seven women and has injured another 950.

Crawford had been the FDA’s acting commissioner for a year when he was confirmed. After his resignation, he obtained a job at a Washington lobbying firm.