Senate overwhelmingly approves Crawford as FDA head

First veterinarian named agency commissioner
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Months after President Bush nominated him as the official head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Lester M. Crawford Jr. was confirmed July 18 by a Senate vote of 78-16.

Dr. Crawford had been acting commissioner of the agency for more than a year when Bush nominated him for the post in February. Several controversies held up his nomination, however, including drug safety concerns, a stalled decision over easier access to emergency contraceptives, and allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. A government investigation found no basis for the charges, sent anonymously to the Senate.

"The appointment of Dr. Crawford, a recognized authority in veterinary medicine, to the position of commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration underscores the important link between public health and animal health," said AVMA President Henry E. Childers. "The American Veterinary Medical Association is extremely proud of our colleague and commends President Bush and Congress for recognizing the invaluable contribution veterinary medicine makes, and will continue to make, to public health and safety."

Following the Senate vote that Monday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt said, "I am pleased that the Senate acted today to approve the nomination of Dr. Lester Crawford to be Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

"Dr. Crawford is a dedicated public servant who has ably led the agency over the last year and previously served as deputy commissioner. The FDA has a critical role in protecting the nation's food supply and ensuring the safety of the medicines we take based on the best science available. I look forward to working with Dr. Crawford and FDA as we seek to continue advancing the nation's health."

When it had been announced that Dr. Crawford was nominated, the AVMA Board of Governors sent a letter to Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions supporting Dr. Crawford's nomination.

"Dr. Crawford has an exemplary record of public service and leadership to our country in public health, food safety, and regulatory medicine, and will bring to the commissioner's office invaluable experience and accomplishments in government, academia, and industry," the letter stated.

Prior to joining the FDA as deputy commissioner in February 2002, Dr. Crawford led the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He previously oversaw the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, as well as the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Crawford is a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the United Kingdom's Royal Society of Medicine. In addition, Dr. Crawford has served as an adviser to the World Health Organization for nearly 20 years.

Dr. Crawford earned his DVM degree from Auburn University and his PhD degree in pharmacology from the University of Georgia. He is a former executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, executive vice president of the National Food Processors Association, and chairman of the University of Georgia's Department of Physiology-Pharmacology.