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Comprehensive Scientific Data Submitted to the FDA Two Years Ago Shows Emergency Contraception Should Be Available Over the Counter

WASHINGTON, DC — On Wednesday, June 15, controversial nominee Lester Crawford will face a committee vote on his nomination to be the FDA commissioner. The vote in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) comes after Crawford refused to guarantee a decision on whether the FDA will grant over-the-counter status to Plan B emergency contraception (EC). The FDA has failed to act for more than two years on the application for over-the-counter status of Plan B, while Crawford has overseen the agency.

Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) have vowed to stall a vote by the full Senate until the FDA rules on EC. Vital questions remain over who in the FDA requested a "minority report," written by Dr. David Hager, which laid out reasons for the FDA to disregard the opinions of its own blue-ribbon advisory panels and reject over-the-counter status for Plan B. Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy after unprotected intercourse.

Following is a statement by Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) Interim President Karen Pearl on Lester Crawford's nomination:

"Crawford has a serious credibility problem. The questions and doubt surrounding his track record at the FDA disqualify him for such an important job. As the leading health care provider of and advocate for emergency contraception, Planned Parenthood strongly urges President Bush to select nominees who are committed to sound science and to advancing public health. Contrary to what we've seen happen with emergency contraception, political bias has no place at the FDA.

"Over-the-counter status for emergency contraception is stalled even after the FDA's own advisory panels recommended approval by an overwhelming margin. As acting head of the FDA, Crawford should rule on emergency contraception, a safe and effective way to prevent unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion, before the Senate votes on his nomination. The American people deserve an FDA that will protect their health and safety by putting science ahead of politics."


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Daedre Levine (212) 261-4549


June 14, 2005