Thursday, March 15, 2007

More Partisan Politics Plays at the FDA

First we had that embarrassment, veterinarian and religious zealot Dr. Lester Crawford, appointed as head to the FDA. Later in 2005, we had the FDA ignoring its own advisory board’s recommendations regarding Plan B, the emergency contraceptive that, were it readily available over the counter, would avoid unplanned and unwanted pregnancies and subsequent abortions.

Susan Wood, the head of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health (OWH), resigned in protest over this turn of events and then was initially replaced by appointment of another veterinarian, Edwin Foulke, by President Bush. Shows how highly women are regarded by this administration. (See the late and sorely missed Molly Ivins’ column for an astute review . So that plan failed and instead, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach was appointed head of the FDA after a pointed confirmation battle.

Dr. Wood made some insightful recommendations regarding getting the FDA back on track as a trusted, scientifically based agency.

Unfortunately, the feds don’t appear to have read her thoughtful comments. In apparent retaliation for the Plan B dispute, the OWH “just had more than one-quarter of this year's $4 million operating budget quietly removed,” according to Rick Weiss in the Washington Post. This would effectively incapacitate the office for the remainder of the fiscal year.

Recognizing the important work the Office of Women’s Health achieves, a broad coalition, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Public Health Association and women’s groups are petitioning congress to restore this funding, critical to women’s health. Please urge your congressional representatives to support this move to reinstate funding, as proposed by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, and hope that reason will prevail for once over vindictiveness and petty partisan politics.