Former FDA Chief Under Investigation genre: Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

Lester Crawford

Lester Crawford, the controversial former head of the Food & Drug Administration, is being investigated for possible false statements to congress and financial improprieties. Crawford, before his resignation last fall, had been accused of blocking the approval of the Plan B contraceptive drug. His nomination was put on hold at one point by Senator Hillary Clinton because of the delay by the Administration to issue a decision on the drug. During his tenure he was also accused of an improper relationship with a fellow employee. That investigation did not lead to Crawford's resignation. The New York Times reports:

Dr. Crawford resigned in September; fewer than three months after the Senate confirmed him. He said then that it was time for someone else to lead the agency.

The next month, financial disclosure forms released by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that in 2004 either Dr. Crawford or his wife, Catherine, had sold shares in companies regulated by the agency when he was its deputy commissioner and acting commissioner. He has since joined a Washington lobbying firm, Policy Directions Inc.

The criminal investigation was disclosed at a court hearing in a lawsuit over the FDA's actions on the emergency contraceptive Plan B, a subject of bitter contention during Dr. Crawford's tenure as acting commissioner and commissioner. After the pill's maker, Barr Laboratories, applied three years ago to sell the pill over the counter, the agency repeatedly delayed making a decision on the application.

According to the transcript, she said that Dr. Crawford was under criminal investigation and that the issue of his financial disclosures "is within the grand jury."

Crawford, during his time at the FDA was accused by many of making politically motivated decisions with regard to medical issues. Some felt his actions with regard to Plan B were consistent with the administrations favoring of abstinence programs and their fear that the approval of the drug would lead to promiscuous behaviors.

Obviously Crawford is innocent until proven otherwise. However, he seems to be one of many who take positions on morality with regards to sex but seemingly forget about morality when it relates to financial issues. It seems like an all too familiar pattern. I often wonder if the actual reality is that many of these people who become vocal advocates of sexual morality are simply using the issue as a vehicle to political power. Sadly, it seems to be an effective approach. As we approach the 2006 midterm elections, I expect to see the rollout of a number of moralistic wedge issues.

Daniel DiRito | April 29, 2006 | 8:15 AM
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