Thursday, August 24, 2006
FDA nominee still faces hurdles
From CNN Congressional Correspondent Andrea Koppel

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With Thursday's decision by the FDA to allow the Plan B contraception pill to be sold without a prescription to women over 18 years old, two Democratic senators who had blocked the nomination of acting FDA administrator Andrew von Eschenbach decided to let it proceed.

Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Patty Murray of Washington had blocked the nomination to pressure the administration to approve the "morning after" pill.

FDA approval of Plan B "is really a positive step forward," Sen. Murray said, though she said she was still concerned about the age restriction. "For 3 years, I've been very concerned the FDA hasn't been able to keep its credibility."

But von Eschenbach may not lose the "acting" title anytime soon -- and it has nothing to do with reproductive politics.

Sen. David Vitter's office said the Republican from Louisiana would maintain his hold on von Eschenbach's nomination to pressure the FDA to approve the import of prescription drugs from Canada. It is a long-standing Senate tradition that a senator may place a hold on, or block, a nomination for federal office for almost any reason.

When senators return to Washington in September, however, the GOP leadership may pressure Vitter to release the hold and allow the full Senate to vote on the long-delayed nomination.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 8/24/2006 02:06:00 PM ET | Permalink
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