Obama administration drops bid to block Plan B access

The administration announced Monday that it will submit to a federal court order to lift restrictions on Plan B

By Katie McDonough

Published June 11, 2013 12:30PM (EDT)

                              (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
(AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Obama administration announced late on Monday that it will submit to a federal court order to lift age and point of sale restrictions on Plan B One-Step emergency contraception and make it available over-the-counter.

In his April ruling, Judge Edward Korman ordered the Food and Drug Administration to make levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception available over-the-counter without age or point of sale restriction, excoriating the administration for attempting to block women's access to contraception and engaging "in intolerable delays... that could accurately be described as an administrative agency filibuster." Korman also called U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' position on emergency contraception “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent.”

In a memo to Korman, the administration proposed that Teva Branded Pharmaceuticals -- the makers of Plan B -- submit a new label allowing it to be sold over-the-counter and without age and point of sale restrictions, which the FDA will "approve without delay;" the letter also indicates that Teva could be granted "marketing exclusivity," blocking women's access, at least temporarily, to generic and less expensive forms of the pill.

Advocates applauded the decision, but will continue to push for unrestricted access to generic and two-pill emergency contraception, as Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights announced in a statement: "We are pleased that women should soon be able to buy Plan B One-Step without the arbitrary restrictions that kept it locked behind the pharmacy counter when they needed it most urgently. But we will continue to fight for fair treatment for women who want and need more affordable options."


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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