FDA: Morning-After Pills OK at Age 15

By on April 30, 2013

WASHINGTON –  The government is moving the  morning-after pill over the counter but only those 15 and older can buy it — an  attempt to find middle ground just days before a court-imposed deadline to lift  all age restrictions on the emergency contraceptive.

Today, Plan B One-Step is sold behind pharmacy counters, and buyers must  prove they’re 17 or older to buy it without a prescription. Tuesday’s decision  by the Food and Drug Administration lowers the age limit and will allow the pill  to sit on drugstore shelves next to spermicides or other women’s health products  and condoms — but anyone who wants to buy it must prove their age at the cash  register.

Some contraceptive advocates called the move promising.

“This decision is a step in the right direction for increased access to a  product that is a safe and effective method of preventing unintended  pregnancies,” said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. “It’s also a decision that moves  us closer to these critical availability decisions being based on science, not  politics.”

But earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of New York blasted  the Obama administration for imposing the age-17 limit, saying it had let  election-year politics trump science and was making it hard for women of any age  to obtain the emergency contraception in time. He ordered an end to the age  restrictions by Monday.

The women’s group that sued over the age limits said Tuesday’s action is not  enough, and it will continue the court fight.

Lowering the age limit “may reduce delays for some young women but it does  nothing to address the significant barriers that far too many women of all ages  will still find if they arrive at the drugstore without identification,” said  Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The FDA said the Plan B One-Step will be packaged with a product code that  prompts the cashier to verify a customer’s age. Anyone who can’t provide such  proof as a driver’s license, birth certificate or passport wouldn’t be allowed  to complete the purchase.

“These are daunting and sometimes insurmountable hoops women are forced to  jump through in time-sensitive circumstances, and we will continue our battle in  court to remove these arbitrary restrictions on emergency contraception for all  women,” Northup said.

Half the nation’s pregnancies every year are unintended, and doctors’ groups  say more access to morning-after pills could cut those numbers. The pills  contain higher doses of regular contraceptives, and if taken within 72 hours of  unprotected sex, can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent.

The FDA had been poised to lift all age limits and let Plan B sell  over-the-counter in late 2011, when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen  Sebelius, in an unprecedented move, overruled her own scientists. Sebelius said  some girls as young as 11 are physically capable of bearing children, but  shouldn’t be able to buy the pregnancy-preventing pill on their own.

President Barack Obama supported Sebelius’ move and a spokesman said earlier  this month that the president’s position hadn’t changed.

The FDA said Tuesday’s decision was independent of the court case. Instead,  after the Obama administration’s 2011 action, Plan B maker Teva Women’s Health  had filed a new application with the age-15 compromise.

Read more:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/04/30/fda-morning-after-pill-to-move-over-counter/#ixzz2RznhErRa

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