FDA Controversy Over Plan B Continues

In the past week, there have been several developments related to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) delay in making a decision about over-the-counter status for the emergency contraceptive Plan B. Last Thursday, acting FDA Commissioner Andrew Von Eschenbach testified before the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to discuss the FDA’s 2007 budget. Democrats on the committee used the time to question Von Eschenbach on Plan B, which has been delayed numerous times over the past two years. Von Eschenbach denied that politics had played a role in any decisions, and said that the FDA would consider the application in the “appropriate fashion,” reports the Associated Press.

Former FDA employees have contended that politics played a role in the decision, and the GAO report given to Congress indicated that there were several irregularities in the FDA’s process concerning the Plan B application. On Saturday, the former Director of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health, Susan Wood, spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Baltimore. Wood resigned from the FDA over the delays surrounding Plan B last fall, as did Dr. Frank Davidoff. In her speech, which drew a standing ovation, Wood criticized the Bush administration position on regulatory processes, and voiced her fear that more scientists would leave FDA because “social conservatives have extreme undue influence” over scientific findings and agency decisions, reports the New York Times.

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Associated Press 2/16/06; Kaiser Network 2/17/06, 2/21/06; New York Times 2/18/06

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