Friday, September 23, 2005

Embattled Commissioner of F.D.A. Resigns

Lester M. Crawford resigned as the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration this afternoon, telling his staff that at 67, he is ready to retire.

Dr. Crawford has been in the post only since July, yet his tenure was marked by several controversies, including delays on the approval of over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill and questions about whether the F.D.A. had acted quickly enough to inform consumers about dangers involving popular medicines like the pain pill Vioxx and antidepressants like Zoloft.

In an interoffice memo he addressed to "all-hands," Dr. Crawford gave no other reason for his abrupt resignation other than to say that "it is time at the age of 67 to step aside. I am doing so with deep gratitude to the President and both Secretaries of Health and Human Services for whom I have been privileged to serve."

Dr. Crawford has worked for the agency off an on since 1978, serving as deputy commissioner before he was named acting commissioner and then commissioner. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt accepted Crawford's resignation "with sadness," a spokeswoman for the department, Christina Pearson, told The Associated Press. "We thank him for his service and wish him well."

Asked if he was forced to resign, Ms. Pearson declined further comment, calling the matter a personnel issue.
During his consideration for the top post, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Patty Murray of Washington threatened to keep the nomination from the floor unless Dr. Crawford prompted his agency to make a long-delayed decision on whether the so-called morning-after pill may be sold over the counter.

An inquiry into reports of the affair found some inconsistencies between his and the woman's explanations of some of their interactions, but investigators found no evidence of an affair, and no senator wanted to pursue the issue further.
"Ms. Pearson later explained that Dr. Crawford's abrupt departure from the FDA building, accompanied by security personnel carrying boxes of his personal effects, was an 'honor guard' in recognition of his fine service."

Given that his controversies were simply at BushCo's bidding and the pre-confirmation affair rumors are old news, it's hard not to wonder if some variation of the dead girl/live boy dynamic is in play here.


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