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Friday, August 26, 2005

FDA Delays Emergency Contraceptive Ruling

Posted by on August 26 at 18:23 PM

So the Washington Post reports the FDA is again putting off a decision on allowing over-the-counter sales of Plan B. The NYT puts it a bit more harshly: their headline reads “F.D.A. Again Denies Application for Morning-After Pill.” Despite their stealth release of the news on a Friday night, the FDA is claiming that the reason they’re waiting is that they want to “gather public sentiment” on the proposal. Here’s my public sentiment on the delay: bullshit.

Quick update: in 2003, the FDA’s scientific advisors recommended that Plan B (which is not an abortofacient) be available without a prescription. (It’s already available without a doctor’s prescription in Washington State—you can go straight to a participating pharmacist.) The FDA refused, citing concerns for young teens.

That’s still their problem. According to the New York Times, the FDA commissioner Lester Crawford claims that “the issue was at what age teens can understand how to use the pills properly.” Putting aside the fact that it would be extremely easy to check IDs at the drugstore, the instructions on the Plan B package are not difficult. You take one pill (a high dose of the same hormone, progestin, that’s in regular birth control pills). Then you take another 12 hours later. Simple. It’s not young teens who are stupid. It’s the FDA.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and our own Patty Murray are all over it. Good job, ladies.