The Senate made a final decision to confirm Dr. Jane Henney as the new Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last Wednesday. She is the first woman to head the organization.
“As I have made clear in prior statements, my priority as commissioner will be to implement the FDA Modernization Act and to strengthen the agency’s scientific base to ensure the best science guides the critical decisions that need to be made,” Henney said in a statement following her confirmation.
President Clinton said of Henney, “The nation now has an FDA Commissioner who is committed to assuring that Americans have safe food, safe and effective drugs and medical devices, and improved public health.”
Henney’s confirmation to the FDA had been delayed by Senate majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.), who cited concern over Henney’s stance on abortion and tobacco issues.
Nickles opposes FDA approval of mifepristone (formerly known as RU 486), a safe, effective method of early abortion, and regulation of tobacco within the country. Nickles feared Henney’s confirmation would lead to approval of the drug and increased regulation of tobacco products.
The American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, patient groups, and numerous private companies all indorsed Henney. “Dr. Henney has the judgment to carry out that vital responsibility in a changing health marketplace, and I know she will forge new and productive relationships with consumers and industry,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala.