FDA head owned stock in FIVE companies regulated by agency 
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 FDA head owned stock in FIVE companies regulated by agency

Former FDA Head Held Shares
In Regulated Firms as Late as '04

October 26, 2005; Page A2

WASHINGTON - As late as 2004, former cooking.net">food and Drug Administration
head Lester Crawford or his wife owned stock in companies that make or
distribute products regulated by the agency, a factor that may have led
to his abrupt departure last month.

For most of 2004, Dr. Crawford was the FDA's acting commissioner, and
prior to that he had been a deputy commissioner at the agency.
Financial disclosure forms released under the Freedom of Information
Act show that during at least part of that time, he or his wife held
stock in companies that have some of their business regulated by FDA,
including Kimberly-Clark Corp. and Teleflex Inc., which make medical
devices, cooking.net">food distributor Sysco Corp. and Embrex Inc., an agricultural
biotechnology company on whose board Dr. Crawford once sat.

The forms also show an ethics official raised questions about
information on Dr. Crawford's financial forms shortly before he left
the FDA.

Through his lawyer, Barbara Van Gelder, Dr. Crawford declined to
comment last night.

On a form dated June 28, 2005, Dr. Crawford reported numerous stock
sales during 2004, including shares of Teleflex, Sysco, Kimberly-Clark
and Embrex, with each transaction valued between $15,001 and $50,000.
He also listed a sale of PepsiCo Inc. stock valued between $50,001 and
$100,000. However, on an earlier form, an ethics officer said in a
notation dated Jan. 7, 2003: "all of the following investments were
sold" in February and March 2002, and then listed companies including
Teleflex, Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo and Sysco.

On July 8, 2005, an ethics official wrote on the June 28 form: "need
more info." A note dated Aug. 12 indicated the ethics official had a
telephone conversation "with filer's broker" that also said "sending
more info." No ethics officer's signature appears on the form. A
signature would indicate that the information complied with laws and
regulations. Dr. Crawford's forms from previous years carried ethics
officers' signatures.

It's unclear whether the ethics officials viewed any of Dr. Crawford's
holdings as a conflict of interest. A spokeswoman for the Department of
Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA, declined to comment.

In an interview last month, Dr. Crawford said he had been "careful to
manage" his portfolio during several stints at the FDA and currently
holds no stock in regulated companies. He added that the
"classification of restricted stocks may change over time and as
companies merge, acquire other financial entities or change in value,
requirements may also shift."

In late September, Dr. Crawford announced he was leaving the FDA,
following Senate confirmation in July after contentious debate. People
with knowledge of the matter said his departure was tied to a stock
holding he may have failed to fully disclose. The inspector general at
the HHS is investigating the circumstances surrounding his departure.

The disclosure forms, some of which were written by hand, show that Dr.
Crawford arrived at the FDA for his most recent stint in 2002 owning
stock in a variety of companies, including pharmaceutical firms Merck &
Co., Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc. He reported to ethics officials
reviewing his information that he sold those stocks in 2002, along with
shares of Kimberly-Clark, PepsiCo and Sysco. The form doesn't say
whether Dr. Crawford was told to sell any of those shares because of a
possible conflict of interest. The forms also don't specify whether he
or his wife owned the stocks; both are required to be reported.

Though Dr. Crawford reported a sale of stock in Teleflex in 2002, later
forms show that he or his wife continued to own some shares. In July
2004, an HHS ethics officer wrote that he had "recommended selling
Teleflex also." That sale occurred, according to the June form, in
October 2004.


Sat, 19 Apr 2008 15:25:29 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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