November 14, 2005
The four-year-after pill
The FDA—choosing ideology over science every time:
The Food and Drug Administration did not follow its usual procedures in rejecting an application for over-the-counter sales of the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B, the investigating arm of Congress found today.
The Government Accountability Office also said in its 57-page report that there were questions about whether top officials of the F.D.A. made the decision to reject the application for over-the-counter sales of the drug, which is opposed by some religious conservatives, even before its own advisory committee had issued its recommendation on the matter.
Several legislators and scientists have complained that the F.D.A. was putting politics ahead of science in its handling of the contraceptive, which can be used as emergency, morning-after contraception.
The G.A.O. said in its report that “the Plan B decision was not typical of the other 67 proposed” changes from prescription to over-the-counter sales that the agency received from 1994 through 2004.
… “We are deeply opposed to this subversion of science,” Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, in a letter signed by 17 other lawmakers.
They urged Mr. Leavitt, who oversees the F.D.A., to intervene to assure that a pending reconsideration of the pill’s status “is based on the best available science instead of ideology.”
… Last month, a consultant to that advisory panel, Dr. Frank Davidoff, editor emeritus of the Annals of Internal Medicine, resigned in protest of the agency’s handling of the Plan B contraceptive, saying it was putting politics over science. In August, the top women’s health official at agency, Susan Wood, also quit in protest over the Plan B decisions.
Meanwhile, the FDA continues to drag its feet, which is why NARAL Pro-Choice America has launched an online clock to keep track. Right now, it’s 1,734 days since the day in 2001 that some 70 medical and public health organizations filed a citizen’s petition urging the FDA to make emergency contraception available over the counter.
You can read the GAO’s full (PDF-format) report here.
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