Issue Date: March 20, 2006
Von Eschenbach picked to lead FDA
President George W. Bush has nominated Andrew C. von Eschenbach as FDA commissioner. Presently serving as acting FDA chief and as director of the National Cancer Institute, von Eschenbach, 64, is a urology surgeon who served as director of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston before moving to NCI in 2002. If confirmed by the Senate, he will give up his NCI post. He would succeed Lester M. Crawford, who suddenly resigned in September 2005 after serving as commissioner for less than three months. The confirmation is expected to be problematic as two senators, Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), have already said they will prevent a vote on von Eschenbach until they receive assurance that FDA will make a final decision on over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive known as Plan B. An FDA scientific advisory board recommended that Plan B be sold over-the-counter, but FDA has been delaying a decision on the case for years. Critics have charged the Bush Administration with letting its political ideology overrule scientific conclusions. Despite this controversy, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee, said he will hold hearings on von Eschenbach's nomination soon.
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