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Office of Women's Health comments on Susan Wood's resignation

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American women lost an advocate for women's health and scientific integrity as Susan F. Wood, PhD, assistant commissioner for Women's Health and director, Office of Women's Health (OWH), announced her resignation. The OWH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Wood's resignation comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) again refused to approve Plan B for over-the-counter use last week. After saying that it completed its review of this application, as amended, and concluding that the available scientific data are sufficient to support the safe use of Plan B as an over-the-counter product, the FDA said it would begin another regulatory process, thereby delaying the decision indefinitely. The FDA plans to hold a new 60-day public comment period -- with no clear criteria or explicit timetable for a final decision.

Wood sent the following correspondence announced to her colleagues and women's health advocates:

"Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I regret to tell you that I am leaving the FDA, and will no longer be serving as the Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and director of the FDA Office of Women's Health. The recent decision announced by the Commissioner about emergency contraception, which continues to limit women's access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health. I have spent the last 15 years working to ensure that science informs good health policy decisions. 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. I therefore have submitted my resignation effective announced.

I will greatly miss working with such an outstanding group of scientists, clinicians and support staff. FDA's staff is of the highest caliber and it has been a privilege to work with you all. I hope to have future opportunities to work with you in a different capacity." This article was prepared by Biotech Week editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2005, Biotech Week via

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