-- E.J. Mundell
THURSDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- The so-called
morning-after pill is about to go over-the-counter, with the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration announcing Thursday that it has
approved unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step.
The move follows a decision earlier this month by the Obama
administration to drop its effort to fight a court order that would
make the emergency contraceptive pill available over-the-counter to
all women and girls, regardless of age.
After fighting for an age threshold on the nonprescription use
of the Plan B One-Step pill for months, the FDA said June 10 that
it would heed the ruling of Judge Edward Korman, of the United
States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The
drug prevents conception if taken within 72 hours of sexual
Korman first issued his order April 5, igniting a battle over
whether young girls could gain access to emergency contraception
without a prescription. Soon after, on April 30, the FDA lowered to
15 the age at which people could purchase the Plan B One-Step pill
over-the-counter -- two years younger than the prior age limit of
A day later, on May 1, the Obama administration stepped in to
appeal the Korman decision.
At the time of the FDA's move to lower the age limit, agency
Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said that "research has shown
that access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential
to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the
"The data reviewed by the agency demonstrated that women 15 years of age and older were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease," she said.
Plan B prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in a woman's
uterus through the use of levonorgestrel, a synthetic form of the
hormone progesterone used for decades in birth control pills. Plan
B contains 1.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel, more than the pill
contains. It is considered a form of birth control, not
Associated Pressreported that the FDA's announcement
Thursday only applied to Plan B One-Step. Other brands of emergency
contraception include Next Choice and Ella.
Planned Parenthood has long pushed for wider access to emergency
contraception. But conservative groups have objected to such a
There's more on emergency contraception at the
World Health Organization.
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