JULY 26, 2006
For the second time in a few years, New York Senator Hillary Clinton has vowed to block the president’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until the agency approves over-the-counter sales of a contraceptive sold only by prescription.
The controversial Plan B pills, or morning after pills, are available with a doctor’s prescription but Clinton wants every woman, including young teens, to purchase the contraceptive freely over the counter to avoid pregnancy.
Last year she threatened to block Lester Crawford’s nomination to head the FDA until the agency made Plan B contraceptives available over the counter, boasting that “I’m prepared to hold it for as long as it takes to get a decision made.” She accused the Bush Administration of substituting politics and ideology for science and facts and for calling a war on contraception.
Crawford eventually got confirmed, but only after Clinton says she was promised that a decision on Plan B would be made without further delay. Late last year, Crawford resigned under fire after the painkiller Vioxx was pulled off the market for safety problems and the recall of malfunctioning heart devices.
President George W. Bush immediately designated the National Cancer Institute’s director, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, to be the FDA’s new acting commissioner and earlier this year the president nominated him to the position permanently.
Clinton says she will block Dr. Eschenbach’s nomination until the FDA decides whether to allow the over-the-counter sales of Plan B pills, even though the agency needs permanent leadership to keep with its mission of protecting public health and speeding innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable.
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