Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said he would block Andrew von Eschenbach’s confirmation to head the FDA.
As a reason for his opposition, Grassley cited von Eschenbach’s failure to comply with subpoenas issued by the Senate Finance Committee, which has oversight over the FDA. In a letter to outgoing Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Grassley also mentioned that he and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had met with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt to express their objections.
Grassley asked Frist to consult him before “entering into any unanimous consent agreement” on von Eschenbach’s nomination, according to Bloomberg News. The letter didn’t describe the subject of the subpoenas, issued in May for access to documents and an agency employee.
Grassley’s represents the third hold on the von Eschenbach nomination by a Republican senator. The other two Republican holds have come from Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and David Vitter of Louisiana. DeMint wants the FDA to withdraw abortion drug RU- 486 from the market, while Vitter is trying to get the Bush administration to allow some prescription drug imports.
Before DeMint and Vitter moved to block the nomination, Democrats were holding it up over Barr Pharmaceuticals’ application to sell the Plan B contraceptive without a prescription. The FDA cleared the over-the-counter sales in August for women ages 18 and older.