Former FDA commissioner Lester M. Crawford has joined a lobbying firm that specializes in food and drug-related issues. Crawford resigned from his FDA position last fall after only serving for three months.
There is an ongoing investigation to determine whether or not he resigned due to undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
Crawford has become a "senior counsel" to the firm Policy Directions Inc. A spokesman for the firm said Crawford did not wish to discuss his appointment to the position.
Crawford cannot directly lobby former FDA colleagues for a year, but he can lobby members of Congress, and is allowed to offer Policy Directions strategic advice about the FDA.
Policy Directions was founded by Frankie L. Trull, who has criticized animal rights groups and is strongly in favor of animal testing.
What happens to ex-FDA officials and Congressmen after they run away from the debatable scrutiny of the federal government? More often than not, they become lobbyists, which is exactly what happened to Lester Crawford.
Crawford may have had to step down when suspicions about conflict of interest started getting a little too close to the truth. Of course, that didn't accomplish much -- Crawford's replacement also has conflict of interest issues.
The FDA has been a tool of the drug manufacturers for a long time now, and his resignation was never reformation so much as shifting things around before someone got caught.
The revolving door between Congress, the executive branch and industry is a kind of corruption that has long been taken advantage of by the companies that deal with the FDA.
Of the 625 drug industry lobbyists employed in 2000, more than half were either former members of Congress, or worked in Congress or other federal agencies.
Crawford's story is a very familiar one. When Dr. Hull Hayes Jr. was appointed acting FDA commissioner, his first official action was to approve aspartame for use in dry products -- an action directly in conflict with recommendations made by FDA scientists.
Two years later, Dr. Hull Hayes was forced to resign under, you guessed it, a cloud of suspicion regarding conflicts of interest issues. He immediately took a job with the public relations firm of G.D. Searle ... the company that manufactured aspartame.
Not too surprising; essentially, he had been working for G. D. Searle the whole time anyway.
As for Policy Directions Inc., the firm Lester Crawford just joined, you may be familiar with some of the rogues' gallery in their client list if you read my blog often:
Sounds like business as usual in the world of sweetheart deals between government and industry.
If you haven't read the major FDA exposé we ran last year with FDA whistleblower Dr. David Graham, I would highly recommend reviewing it. It will open your eyes to what has been going on behind the closed doors at the FDA.