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Friday, Feb. 25, 2002
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343


HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today named Lester M. Crawford Jr., D.V.M., Ph.D., to serve as deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Crawford begins in the position immediately.

As deputy commissioner, Dr. Crawford will be the senior official at FDA, pending the installment of a permanent commissioner of food and drugs.

"Lester Crawford has devoted his career to promoting safer products for the public, and he brings to the FDA valuable experience and leadership skills," Secretary Thompson said. "With his help, the FDA will continue to build on its successes in ensuring the safety of foods, drugs and medical products for all Americans."

Dr. Crawford takes over from Bernard A. Schwetz, D.V.M., Ph.D., a career FDA executive who has served as acting principal deputy commissioner since Jan. 21, 2001. Dr. Schwetz, senior advisor for science, will continue to work on public health and FDA issues within the agency.

"Dr. Bern Schwetz has led the FDA during a challenging year, when the nation faced its first bioterrorism attack," Secretary Thompson said. "Forward-looking actions by FDA, like early and rapid approval of effective drugs against anthrax, played a crucial role in saving lives. I thank Bern for his service over the past year."

Dr. Crawford most recently served as head of the Center for Food and Nutrition Policy at Virginia Tech. He also served as administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service from 1987 to 1991 and as director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine from 1978 to 1980, and again from 1982 to 1985.

He received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Auburn University in 1963 and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Georgia in 1969. During his career, he has also served as executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, executive vice president of the National Food Processors Association, as chairman of the University of Georgia's Department of Physiology-Pharmacology and as a practicing veterinarian.

With a budget of nearly $1.6 billion and more than 9,000 employees, FDA assures that food is safe, wholesome and properly labeled; that pharmaceuticals, biological products such as blood and vaccines, and medical devices are safe, effective and properly labeled. FDA is the nation's oldest and foremost consumer protection agency. Its mission is to promote and protect the public health by helping to ensure that safe and effective products reach the market in a timely way, and by monitoring products for continued safety after they are in use.


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Last revised: Febuary 25, 2002