US to allow morning-after pill for girls of any age

The Obama administration said Monday it would comply with a judge's order to allow women and girls of any age to purchase emergency contraception, ending its efforts to restrict the drug's availability.

The reversal on the politically sensitive issue means that anyone, including young girls, will soon be able to purchase the popular Plan B One-Step morning-after pill over the counter, without a prescription.

President Barack Obama's administration had fought against US District Court Judge Edward Korman's order seeking to make the drug more widely available after a more than decade-long court fight, warning of health and social dangers.

In a letter to US District Judge Edward Korman, US attorneys said the Food and Drug Administration was dropping its appeal.

"To comply with the order, FDA has asked the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step (PBOS) to submit a supplemental application seeking approval of the one-pill product to be made available OTC without any such restrictions," the agency said in a statement.

"Once FDA receives that supplemental application, the FDA intends to approve it promptly."

Levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception contains the same active ingredients as birth control pills but at higher doses, and may prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the latest lawsuit, hailed the FDA's "significant step forward" but criticized the administration for "unjustifiably" preventing generic, more affordable brands of emergency contraception to be made widely available.

"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," the center's president and CEO Nancy Northrup said in a statement.

"But we will continue to fight for fair treatment for women who want and need more affordable options."

In April, the FDA approved Plan B One-Step for girls aged 15 and up—reducing the age restriction by two years.

But the move only applied to one brand of emergency contraception, and required that it be security-tagged to avoid theft and only sold over the counter in stores that have a pharmacy.

It followed an order by Korman for the government to make levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception available without prescription or point of sale restriction.

Korman had slammed Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's decision overruling the FDA to require teens under 17 to obtain a prescription as "politically motivated" and "scientifically unjustified."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US Justice Department appeals morning-after case

May 02, 2013

(AP)—The Obama administration appealed a federal judge's order to lift all age limits on who can buy morning-after birth control pills without a prescription. In appealing the ruling on Wednesday, the administration ...

Judge in NYC rips opposition to Plan B order

May 07, 2013

A federal judge, asked by the U.S. government on Tuesday to freeze his plan giving teenage girls broader access to morning-after birth control, instead seized the chance to accuse health officials of taking steps that would ...

Recommended for you

US approves new, hard-to-abuse hydrocodone pill (Update)

Nov 20, 2014

U.S. government health regulators on Thursday approved the first hard-to-abuse version of the painkiller hydrocodone, offering an alternative to a similar medication that has been widely criticized for lacking ...

Soaring generic drug prices draw Senate scrutiny

Nov 20, 2014

Some low-cost generic drugs that have helped restrain health care costs for decades are seeing unexpected price spikes of up to 8,000 percent, prompting a backlash from patients, pharmacists and now Washington ...

Only half of patients take their medications as prescribed

Nov 20, 2014

The cost of patients not taking their medications as prescribed can be substantial in terms of their health. Although a large amount of research evidence has tried to address this problem, there are no well-established ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.