President Bush yesterday said that he would be nominating Lester Crawford as the next US Food and Drug Administration commissioner.

Dr Crawford was appointed to the position of depute FDA commissioner back in 2002 [[26/02/02f]], and has served as the agency’s acting head since March last year, when the then-commissioner, Mark McClellan, took up his new position at the helm of the US Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services [[15/03/04a]].

The announcement has met with mixed reactions. Mike Leavitt, head of the USA’s Department of Health and Human Services [[14/12/04a]], heralded Dr Crawford as an “outstanding choice.” However, Massachusetts’ senator, Edward Kennedy, was more reserved about the nomination. Amongst his concerns, he highlighted the recent controversy surrounding drug safety [[19/11/04a]], [[06/12/04d]], which was thrust into the spotlight as a result of Merck & Co’s decision to withdraw its once top-selling COX 2 inhibitor, Vioxx (rofecoxib), last year [[01/10/04a]], and the use of antidepressants in children and the oft-reported link with suicidal thoughts and behaviour [[06/07/04a]], as well as the possible intrusion of political decisions into agency judgements [[14/05/04c]]. “As many of these controversies arose while Dr Crawford was acting commissioner, it will be important for him to lay out to Congress and the American public his specific plans to ensure the safety of our prescription drugs as well as our food supply,” Senator Kennedy said in a statement.