Saturday, September 24, 2005

Crawford out, von Eschenbach in

Most of the pro-choice bloggers are pretty happy that embattled commissioner of the FDA, Lester Crawford, has suddenly resigned a mere 2 months after his confirmation. Shakes questions if Crawford's been forced out, Jill wonders what nut the Preznit will name to replace him. Based on how quickly urologist Andrew von Eschenbach was named as acting commissioner of the FDA, my guess is that Crawford was forced out.

People unfamiliar with von Eschenbach may initially rejoice that Bush has named a physician to replace Crawford, a veterinarian who was considered to be a typical FDA bureaucrat, but the urologist's record upon being appointed to head the National Cancer Institute (NCI) by Bush raises concerns whether he will permit science to trump politics and religion as the basis for agency decisions. When von Eschenbach was first appointed to the NCI, a fact sheet that stated there was no scientifically proven link between abortion and breast cancer was suddenly removed from the NCI web-site. von Eschenbach, who has a long-standing friendship with the first President Bush and his wife, defended the removal saying data from studies were inconsistent despite the fact the action was spurred not by scientific review, but by a letter from Chris Smith (R-NJ) and his Pro-Life Caucus urging the removal of the fact-sheet.

After complaints by scientists and clinicians that he was allowing politics to trump science, the NCI held the "Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop", designed to ensure a thorough review of the data produced from studies of the correlation between induced abortion and breast cancer. The result was a revision and publication of the NCI fact-sheet reiterating that there is no scientific data to support a causal link between induced abortion and breast cancer. Needless to say, anti-choice organizations have been crying foul ever since.

While science did eventually win out at the NCI, the FDA is a more visible government agency that has already permitted bureaucracy and politics to play a more key role in decision making than data from adequate and well controlled studies. The suddenness of Crawford's decision to resign coupled with the lightening speed of his replacement with von Eschenbach raises questions as to whether science will take center stage at the agency as it should. The first test will be how quickly the FDA, under von Eschenbach's direction, will address the long-delayed status of Plan B and whether data from appropriately designed controlled studies will be the final arbiter of a decision to approve Barr's application.

Tags: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: