FDA to (finally) consider Plan B

After years of stalling, women might finally have access to over-the-counter emergency contraception.

Published July 31, 2006 7:00PM (EDT)

Today the FDA announced that it is considering approval of the sale of the emergency contraceptive Plan B without a prescription. The FDA is in discussions with Plan B's manufacturer, Barr Laboratories, and according to the New York Times, they could be completed in a matter of weeks.

It's about friggin' time.

As you'll recall, a ruling on the over-the-counter status of the drug has been tied up for years and has been tainted by the suggestion that politics -- not concerns for women's health -- have been the cause of the government's indecision regarding the drug.

"The FDA has made false promises before on women's access to EC over the counter. Their needless delay on this issue is now more than 550 days old -- in that time women could have prevented an estimated 2.25 million unintended pregnancies and 1.2 million abortions (my emphasis) if EC were available over the counter," said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs of Planned Parenthood of America in a press release.

While it's definitely good news that the FDA is finally making a move, the bad news is that they will likely only recommend that Plan B be made available OTC for women 18 and older, leaving younger women without greater access to backup birth control.

But I guess we'll take what we can get.

By Lori Leibovich

Lori Leibovich is a contributing editor at Salon and the former editor of the Life section.

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