Long Overdue FDA Decision on EC to Arrive in September
Expanded EC Access Could Have Prevented Millions of Pregnancies and Abortions During Two-Year Delay
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FDA will issue a long overdue ruling by September 1, 2005, on the application to make Plan B emergency contraception (EC) available without prescription, according to a press release issued by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY). Murray and Clinton have pressured the FDA to issue a ruling on the application for expanded EC access. The decision is more than two years overdue. Karen Pearl, interim president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued the following statement:
"Every day the FDA delays is one more day that women will experience unintended pregnancies that could have been prevented. The evidence is overwhelming that emergency contraception is safe and effective and is used responsibly by women of all ages. The FDA's own blue-ribbon advisory panels strongly endorsed making EC available over the counter. It is high time for the FDA to focus on the science and stop kowtowing to extremist ideology.
"We are deeply grateful for the efforts of Senators Clinton and Murray. The time has come for the FDA to quit stalling and live up to their mission of protecting the public's health and well-being. We urge the agency to act swiftly — not wait until the last possible moment to issue a decision — and make EC available without prescription."
Emergency contraception pills contain hormones that reduce the risk of pregnancy if started within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse. The sooner emergency contraception is administered after unprotected intercourse, the better it works, making timely access critically important. Studies show that women do not rely on emergency contraception as a regular method of birth control.
Research indicates that widespread availability of emergency contraception could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year in the United States. Barr Laboratories, which manufactures Plan B, applied for over-the-counter status for Plan B more than two years ago. During that time, increased access to Plan B could have helped many more women prevent unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion. Planned Parenthood is the leading provider of emergency contraception in the United States.