Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced a new bill, the FDA Scientific Fairness for Women Act, in the House yesterday. According to Dr. Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center (NRC) for Women and Families, the legislation “prioritizes the importance of science and the health needs of women and helps to ensure that industry pressure and political ideology do not overrule scientific findings.” Under DeLauro’s bill, the director of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health would report directly to the FDA Commissioner.
The bill specifically addresses women’s health issues related to emergency contraception (EC) and silicone breast implants. Earlier this summer, FDA scientists reported that the approval of EC over-the-counter was heavily influenced by political pressure, which delayed the drug’s approval. Even now, the drug will only be available without a prescription for women 18 years old or older.
FDA decisions surrounding silicone breast implants have also been subject to industry pressures, according to the National Organization for Women (NOW). Women with breast implants have higher rates of hazardous levels of an oxidized form of platinum in hair, urine, blood, and breast milk samples. Some women were unaware of these risks, and made their children sick after breast feeding.
Dr. Susan Wood, the former Assistant Commissioner for Women’s Health of the FDA who resigned because of the agency’s delay in approving EC for over-the-counter status, spoke out in support of the bill, saying, “Let good science drive the decision. The role of Congress is to have oversight over the FDA and to ensure that it is strong and effective. This bill will try to restore integrity to the FDA and create an office that can shape women’s health and help to make sure data are reviewed appropriately,” according to NOW.