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Congress Calls for Investigation into FDA Chief’s Sudden Resignation

Sep 30, 2005 | Both sides of Capitol Hill are asking questions about the unexpected departure of FDA Commissioner Dr. Lester Crawford. 

Crawford stepped down from the FDA’s top post on September 23rd, just two months after a heated confirmation battle in the Senate.  He told that he decided to leave the FDA because he was tiring after three years at the agency, but other reports have suggested that Dr. Crawford left due to potential conflicts of interest from his financial holdings.

In a letter sent yesterday to Daniel Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Resources, Senators Michael Enzi(R-WY) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) requested a thorough review of the reasons surrounding Dr. Crawford’s resignation.  They asked  the Inspector General to  specifically “examine his financial reporting in accordance with various ethics laws to determine whether he was in compliance and whether he was forthcoming” with the Committee.

Enzi is the Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Kennedy is the Committee’s ranking Democrat.

They also requested information concerning any dates during which Crawford’s financial holdings may have posed conflicts of interest, and asked for specifics on what decisions he made during those times.

“The FDA is one of this country’s most important agencies.  The nation must have complete confidence that FDA is led by a fully vetted Commissioner, free from conflicts of interest,” wrote Enzi and Kennedy.

A similar effort has come from the House of Representatives.  Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), along with five of his House colleagues, also called on the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General to examine the reasons for Crawford’s surprise resignation.

In a letter dated September 28th, they wrote: “We believe that the sudden nature of this action, combined with both conflicting reports about the resignation and recent difficulties at the FDA, warrant your office’s involvement in this matter. Congress and the public deserve to know what is going on with the leadership at the Food and Drug Administration.”

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