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FDA May Move on Plan B
Planned Parenthood Calls on FDA to Stop Playing Politics and to Focus on Science and Public Health
WASHINGTON, DC — Following reports today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will discuss over-the-counter status with Barr Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Plan B emergency contraception (EC), Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) called on officials at the FDA to stop playing politics with women's reproductive health.
"Today's announcement holds the potential for improving women's health if the FDA keeps its word this time. The FDA should be on the frontlines of advancing public health, and expanded access to contraception is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancies for women of all reproductive ages," said Vanessa Cullins, M.D., PPFA vice president for medical affairs.
News reports indicate the FDA and Barr plan to discuss granting over-the-counter status to EC for women 18 and over, leaving younger women without the benefits of greater access to the backup birth control method. The announcement comes one day before Andrew von Eschenbach, whom President Bush has nominated to become commissioner of the FDA, is scheduled to appear at a Senate hearing. As acting commissioner of the agency, von Eschenbach has taken no action on EC and Senators Clinton and Murray have pledged to hold his nomination until the FDA makes a final decision on the Plan B application.
"The FDA has made false promises before on women's access to EC over the counter. Their needless delay on this issue is now more than 550 days old — in that time women could have prevented an estimated 2.25 million unintended pregnancies and 1.2 million abortions if EC were available over the counter. Women deserve to have the FDA approve this immediately. Planned Parenthood calls on the FDA to stop this shameful game of false promises and playing politics with its public health mandate," added Dr. Cullins.
EC lowers the risk of pregnancy when started within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse. Experts estimate that wider access to EC could prevent up to 1.5 million unintended pregnancies — and 800,000 abortions — a year. The sooner EC is administered after unprotected intercourse, the better it works, making timely access critically important. Studies show that women do not use EC as a regular method of birth control.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child, and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 860 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year. We also work with allies worldwide to ensure that all women and men have the right and the means to meet their sexual and reproductive health care needs.