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FDA Appoints New Head of Office of Women’s Health

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced its appointment of Kathleen Uhl, MD, to serve as director of the Office of Women’s Health. The position was previously held by Dr. Susan Wood, who resigned in September to protest the FDA’s refusal to make emergency contraception Plan B available over the counter. According to the FDA, Uhl has experience in drug review and safety, as well as knowledge of women’s health issues. Wood told the Post that Uhl “is a long standing advocate for women’s health in the agency.”

The FDA’s delay in making a decision on over-the-counter status of Plan B has been widely criticized as politics trumping science. In addition to Dr. Wood, Lester B. Crawford, who served as acting commissioner and commissioner of the FDA during much of the decision-making process on Plan B, resigned suddenly in September. In an interview with Forbes.com, Crawford said that the controversy over EC was part of the reason he decided to leave the FDA. The Governmental Accountability Office has issued a report citing concerns with the decision-making process.

Uhl will replace Theresa Toigo, who has been serving as acting director of the Office on Women’s Health. Toigo was the FDA’s second pick for acting director. Initially, Nelson Alderson, PhD, a specialist in veterinary medicine, was named to replace Wood. The outrage expressed by women’s groups led the FDA to do damage control, replacing Alderson with Toigo.

Sources:

FDA release 11/21/05; Feminist Daily News Wire 8/31/05, 9/21/05, 9/26/05, 11/15/05; Washington Post 11/21/05

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