Lester Crawford, 67, has suddenly resigned as head of the FDA, saying that he was stepping aside because of his age. The new acting commissioner is Andrew von Eschenbach, a urological surgeon previously with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute.
His three-year tenure at FDA was marked by increasing criticism and a troubled past year. The painkiller Vioxx was pulled off the market for safety problems, and he indefinitely postponed non-prescription sales of emergency contraception over the objections of staff scientists who had declared the pill safe. The FDA’s women’s health chief resigned in protest.
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Dr. Crawford had been elevated by President Bush from acting commissioner partly because his experience was deemed important as the FDA tried to better safeguard the food supply against bioterrorism.