Plan B and the FDA

Today I stumbled upon a Feminists for Choice article regarding the FDA‘s dilly-dallying around with Plan B, otherwise known as emergency contraception (EC), and had to bring it to your attention.

EC has been available — behind pharmacy counters with proof of ID — to those 18+ since 2006, and to those 17+ since 2009. Nonetheless, it remains inaccessible for many. For example, women must approach the pharmacist and request EC; should the pharmacist’s religious beliefs conflict with providing Plan B, s/he may refuse to hand it over, under the protection of conscience clauses.

Price is another hurdle. In 2007, I led NOW-NYC’s Reproductive Rights Action Committee in a city-wide survey of pharmacies, which found prices as high as $50 for one dose of EC. While $50 may be a drop in the bucket for some, it means choosing between a week’s worth of meals and avoiding pregnancy for others.

More recently, Teva, the maker of Plan B One-Step, has pushed to make EC available over the counter for women of all ages. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it highlights just how much the FDA has dicked around with Plan B.

In a nutshell:

  • It took the FDA from 2001 to 2006 to finally allow the sale of Plan B. We have Bush and his anti-choice cronies to thank for that. Which brings me to point 2:
  • The FDA allowed politics to trump science for too long. According to the article, “it turns out that the Bush White House had been consulted during the decision-making process – one high-level FDA official even told colleagues that he was afraid he’d lose his job if he approved Plan B for over-the-counter status”
  • The FDA has failed to take action on a court mandate ordering Plan B to have true over-the-counter status.

I encourage you to read the full article, which is written by a legal fellow with the Center for Reproductive Rights. The bottom line is that ONCE AGAIN women’s reproductive health is being played with and this needs to end. Politics should never trump science.

 

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