Dr Lester Crawford has been confirmed as the new head of the US Food and Drug Administration.

Dr Crawford has held the position of deputy FDA commissioner for the past three years [[26/02/02f]], and was nominated as its new chief earlier this year following the departure of former FDA head, Mark McClellan, to run the agency that oversees the country’s Medicare agency [[23/02/04d]], [[15/02/05a]]. Health and human services secretary, Mike Leavitt, said that he was pleased with the approval of Dr Crawford's nomination, calling the new FDA chief "a dedicated public servant who has ably led the agency over the last year."

However, confirmation of the nomination faced a delay after two US senators refused to vote on the issue until a decision was made on whether to approve an over-the-counter version of Barr Laboratories’ emergency contraceptive, Plan B (levonorgestrel) [[18/07/05c]], [[16/06/05d]]. One of the senators in question, Patty Murray, said: "...concerns about Dr Crawford's leadership remain. I have been continually concerned during Dr Crawford’s tenure that FDA hasn't shown the independence and adherence to science necessary to inspire public confidence... As FDA tackles the considerable challenges that lay ahead, there can be no question of the integrity or independence of the commissioner. I hope that Dr Crawford will be this type of leader and my concerns will be proven wrong."