Andrew von Eschenbach, Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and nominee to the permanent position, denied any undue influence from the Bush administration. Speaking to reporters at the Association of Health Care Journalists annual meeting, von Eschenbach said that he had not been ideologically “restrained or constrained” by the administration in any scientific decisions, reports Reuters. He went on to emphasize the role of society in determining “the implications of these scientific discoveries,” while “ensuring the balance between what is effective and what is safe and what is appropriate.”
Repeated delays regarding the emergency contraceptive Plan B have led to accusations of inappropriate political influence at the FDA. Susan Wood, former head of the FDA’s Office on Women’s Health, has been particularly outspoken, and the Government Accountability Office also found evidence that the decision was not handled according to FDA protocol. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have placed a hold on the vote to confirm von Eschenbach until the FDA makes a decision on the application to make Plan B available over-the-counter to women 17 and older.