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Politics and Crime at the FDA

July 10, 2007

On the same day that former Surgeon General Richard Carmona told Congress about the politicization of his office by the White House, a bizarre story from China served as a reminder of other past Bush wrong-doing at the FDA. The Beijing government punished the former head of the Chinese Food and Drug Administration for approving bogus medicine in exchange for cash. Which sounds like President Bush's former FDA chief, Dr. Lester Crawford.
As you may recall, Crawford mysteriously resigned in September 2005 after only two months on the job. The mystery was solved in April 2006, when a grand jury commenced an investigation into potentially improper financial dealings and making false statements to Congress. In February, Dr. Crawford was convicted of lying about stock he owned in companies being regulated by his own agency. He was sentenced to pay $90,000 in fines and given three years of supervised probation.
As you may also recall, Crawford during his brief tenure emerged as one of the poster children for Bush White House scientific fraud and ideological hijacking of American health care. A veterinarian and supposed food safety expert, Crawford played a central role in stonewalling over-the-counter sales of the Plan B emergency contraceptive despite a consensus about its safety and its overwhelming approval by FDA's professional staff. (For more, see "Plan B's Tangled Web.") By the time Plan B eventually overcame the opposition of the religious right and its allies in the White House, Lester Crawford was off to face his day in court.
His Chinese counterpart wasn't so lucky. The regime on Beijing, already worried about the safety of Chinese food and drug exports in advance the upcoming Olympics, executed Zheng Xiaoyu for his admittedly much more serious crimes. Under Xiaoyu, the State and Drug Administration (SFDA):

approved six untested drugs that turned out to be fake, and some drug-makers used falsified documents to apply for approvals, according to state media reports. One antibiotic caused the deaths of at least 10 people.

Lester Crawford, of course, didn't kill anybody. But like so many in the Bush administration, he put ideology before science. He served not the interests of the American public, but the very companies he was supposed to regulate. (That, of course, should make him a logical choice for the Libby treatment from President Bush.) After his conviction, Crawford stated, "I want to assure you that I accept responsibility for what I've done."
Lucky for him he didn't live in China.

One comment on “Politics and Crime at the FDA”

  1. Whoa! That entire piece was stretch. There's just no comparison between Crawford and Zheng.


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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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