The US Senate on Thursday approved a $100 billion appropriations bill for agriculture, food and drug programs, but left off an amendment proposed by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) that would have required the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finally make a yes-or-no decision on Barr Pharmaceutical’s application to sell the drug Plan B without a prescription. Under the amendment, $10 million in funding would have been withheld from the FDA unless the commission ruled on Barr’s petition by January 21, 2006—a full year after its internal deadline and five months after its request for public comment.
Barr’s application to sell emergency contraception (EC) over the counter has been pending for two-and-a-half years. Recently, Dr. Susan Wood resigned as director of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health in protest over the Plan B stall, saying, “I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended by the professional staff here, has been overruled.”
“This is not the last word on this issue,” Senator Murray told the Associated Press. “The FDA is letting politics trump science in the way it approves medicines for the American consumer.”