The Senate yesterday (Dec. 7) confirmed Andrew C. von Eschenbach to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration by an overwhelming vote of 80 to 11, giving the beleaguered agency its first permanent leader in 15 months. The former director of the National Cancer Institute had been serving as acting FDA chief since September 2005, when Lester M. Crawford abruptly resigned amid questions about his financial dealings with companies regulated by the FDA."Dr. von Eschenbach's experience as a cancer surgeon and his leadership as director of the National Cancer Institute afford him unique insights into the critical need to advance new treatments for patients with life-threatening illnesses," said Jim Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, in a statement yesterday. Von Eschenbach's Senate confirmation had been held up since September due to opposition from a handful of senators concerned over the agency's marketing approval of the Plan B emergency...

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