Crawford Resigns as FDA Commissioner

He had been acting commissioner since March 2004.
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Lester Crawford, the FDA commissioner under fire for delaying action on an emergency contraception pill, resigned Friday after 18 months on the job.

Crawford, 67, was named acting FDA commissioner in March 2004. After a contentious nomination process, he was confirmed to the post in July.

In a letter to the president, Crawford wrote, "It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve you and the American people, and to lead the exceptional employees at the Food and Drug Administration."

The resignation was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services. He described the resignation as a "personnel matter."

Crawford was deputy FDA commissioner since 1997 was made the FDA's acting commissioner after Mark McClellan's departure for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Crawford drew criticism on several fronts during his tenure. He was chastised over the FDA's supposed bungling of

Merck's

(MRK) - Get Report

Vioxx withdrawal,

Guidant's

(GDT)

defibrillator recalls and for delaying a decision on

Barr Labs'

(BRL)

Plan B emergency contraception.

In August, under Crawford, the FDA delayed a decision on whether to make Barr Labs' Plan B emergency contraception pill available without a prescription. This delay led Susan F. Wood, an assistant FDA commissioner and director of the Office of Women's Health, to step down from her post.

Crawford said that unresolved regulatory issues made it impossible to approve expanded use of the emergency contraceptive, and questioned whether the same drug could be sold both by prescription and over-the-counter for the same indication.