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.
photo courtesy of meddygarnet via Flickr