The US Senate Health Committee is to launch an inquiry into the resignation of the US Food and Drug Administration’s chief, Lester Crawford, one week ago [[26/09/05a]]. According to industry reports, the committee wants to determine the reasons for Dr Crawford’s sudden departure and to check he complied with ethics and financial disclosure laws.

A letter released yesterday by Senators Michael Enzi and Edward Kennedy, former staunch defenders of Dr Crawford, called for the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services – Daniel Levinson – to “conduct a thorough review of the reasons” for his resignation. The New York Times goes on to cite the letter as saying: “To the extent that there was a breakdown in the disclosure process, it is of crucial importance that the committee be apprised of the details as soon as is practicable.” According to Dr Crawford’s brother in law, again disclosed by the NYT, an inadvertent failure to make a financial disclosure had led to his sudden resignation.

Dr Crawford was formally instated as FDA Commissioner just two months ago, after a three-year spell as Deputy and a year as Acting Commissioner. However, he has been charged with having lax oversight after a series of major scandals, including the withdrawal of Vioxx (rofecoxib) [[01/10/04a]] and the issue of suicidality amongst antidepressant patients [[06/07/04a]].