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Plan B Closer to Being Widely Available

Plan B Closer to Being Widely Available

Teva, the manufacturer of emergency contraceptive Plan B, filed an application with the Food and Drug Administration requesting that Plan B be made available over-the-counter without a prescription for women of all ages.  This comes a full two-years after a court’s holding that previous actions by the FDA to limit access to emergency contraception was based on politics and not science and ordered the agency to reconsider its actions.

But despite the March 2009 ruling the FDA has ignored the order and has done nothing to make emergency contraception more widely available.  The blatant disregard for the court’s order was so bad that in November 2010 the Center for Reproductive Rights asked the court to hold the agency in contempt.

Not wanting another adverse ruling the agency balked and said that the best way for it to comply with the order is to wait for a new application from the drug manufacturer.  So now that Teva has filed its application, just how will the agency respond?

Some fear this approach is worse for reproductive rights as the agency may take a piecemeal approach to making emergency contraception available, rather than ending the restrictions outright.  Since Teva’s application applies only to Plan B there’s good reason to be wary of this approach.  The other four kinds of emergency contraception will also have to file applications in order to be approved for over-the-counter no age restriction sale.

There is no reason why a group like the Center for Reproductive Rights should have to wage a ten-year-battle to get approval of contraception that has been shown safe and effective.  Making sure emergency contraception available to all women is a simple step in helping prevent unintended pregnancies and reducing the need for abortions.  The decisions to restrict access have had nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics. 

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photo courtesy of meddygarnet via Flickr

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29 comments

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6:16AM PDT on Aug 5, 2011

From http://www.planb.ca/faq.html
Do I need a prescription for plan B?

[P]lan B is available at pharmacies across Canada without a prescription from your doctor. It is kept behind the counter in Saskatchewan and is available under prescription by your pharmacist in Quebec.[P]lan B is available over the counter in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon. It can be found in either of these sections: Birth Control, Contraceptives, Feminine Hygiene or Family Planning.
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The article on this site here says the court: "ordered the agency [FDA] to reconsider its actions.". Right or wrong, could the FDA not have "reconsidered" and still come to the same conclusion? I'm not sure a contempt of court is provable. Perhaps it would be more efficient and more democratic to get your elected officials to look at the facts and take a stand.

And just a side comment on Cat W.'s assertion that a 10 year old rape victim should not be denied access to Plan B.. I agree but if the only barrier (and perhaps it's not, I don't know the situation in the US) is a prescription, I think that getting one would be the least of her worries and only denied in the most rare or bizarre of cases. In such a case, I think medical supervision (a prescription being secondary) would be critical when administering high levels of hormones to a very young girl. To

4:24PM PDT on Aug 3, 2011

Any kind of age restriction is ridiculous and illogical. Why shouldn't a ten year old be able to protect herself from offspring resulting from rape or incest?

Absolutely zero reason to withhold this medication from ANYONE.

4:07PM PST on Feb 21, 2011

wow, not good. quite ridiculous is actually what it is.

7:53AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

Birth control is the #1 answer, but it's not always in the right place at the right time! This pill is an alternative to another unplanned/unwanted pregnancy.

7:52AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

Rosemary, I happen to LIKE sex, and blue-balling my honey would be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

5:28AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

Thanks for the info.

3:26AM PST on Feb 16, 2011

I'm in Canada, and took it years ago... I am thinking 8 years ago, over-the-counter for like $40.

9:57PM PST on Feb 15, 2011

Rosemary - how about women who have been raped? And going on a 'sex strike' deprives the woman of pleasure, not just the man.

5:21PM PST on Feb 15, 2011

Too bad when politics is put ahead of women's welfare.

2:45PM PST on Feb 15, 2011

Don't agree with you Rosemary G. A lot of us do enjoy sex and enjoy pleasing our man. Definitely think that Plan B should be made available. Wish it had been when I was younger and foolish.

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