Saturday, September 03, 2005

When Politics Override Public Health in Drug Policy!

This is a picture of the former Assistant FDA Commissioner Susan F. Wood.

This is the "Plan B" medication that is used for emergency contraception:

British Columbia has had the "morning-after pill" available without a doctor's visit since 2000. A recent study by Dr. Judith Soon estimated that the drug "prevented 390 unwanted pregnancies over the two year study."

She stated:
"Perhaps about half of those [women] would have had an abortion. That did not occur because of the emergency contraceptives,"
Isn't that what we all want? To make abortions less common? Can we all at least agree with that?

Those of us who are Pro-Choice, myself included, will work hard to keep abortion rights available for women in a safe and non-threatening environment. But we are also interested in preventing unwanted pregnancies by having contraception, including emergency contraception easily available.

So when the FDA ignored the overwhelming majority of its professional panel to appease the fundamentalists who could not see the ethics of reducing unnecessary abortions, but instead delayed once again to place religious extremists over the health and welfare of women in America, Susan F. Wood had enough.

She resigned.

"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled," she wrote in an e-mail to her staff and FDA colleagues.
She went on to note:
Wood also said other FDA officials who are typically involved in important matters were kept in the dark about the contraceptive, called Plan B, until Crawford announced his decision, which she believed was made at higher levels in the administration. Wood said that when she asked a colleague in the commissioner's office when the decision would be made, the answer was, "We're still awaiting a decision from above; it hasn't come down yet."
Maybe Karl Rove made the decision. Or was it Karen Hughes. Or Dick Cheney? Or did George W. Bush decide on what to do about emergency contraception?

Who knows.

I can tell you this. The American people suffer every single time this good old boys network running our nation makes decisions based on religious fundamentalists instead of listening to our doctors and scientists. This administration is doing an amateur job in reacting to the Katrina disaster and Americans are dying.

The FDA decision means more women will suffer from unwanted pregnancies and shall be considering more, not less, abortions to deal with them.

Simply shameful.

It is time for new leadership in America! Leadership that consults with experts and not religious fundamentalists for decisions on drug approvals. Leadership that responds to national disasters with experts and not with incompetence. America deserves better!



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