Senators Question FDA Politics

Planned Parenthood Applauds Senators Clinton and Murray for Putting Women's Health over Politics;
Demands FDA Stick to the Science



WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) applauded Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for demanding answers from Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on the agency's scientifically baseless delay in granting over-the-counter status to Plan B emergency contraception (EC). As members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Senators Clinton and Murray have pledged to maintain a hold on von Eschenbach's nomination to become the permanent FDA commissioner until a final decision is made on the Plan B application.

"For too long women have faced needless hurdles in preventing unintended pregnancy because the FDA has put politics above science," said Cecile Richards, PPFA president. "Planned Parenthood applauds Senators Clinton and Murray for putting public health first and demanding accountability from the FDA."

One day before von Eschenbach's hearing, the FDA announced it would work with Barr Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Plan B emergency contraception, to discuss the possibility of over-the-counter status for EC for women 18 and over. In today's hearing, the FDA left open the possibility that it may not approve over-the-counter sales of EC.

"Approximately 300,000 young teens face pregnancy each year, and the United States has among the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the developed world." said Richards. "The FDA's priority should be making sure teens who need birth control have every chance to prevent pregnancy, including expanded access to emergency contraception."

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.

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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.



Contacts

Erin Kiernon, 202-973-4975
Gustavo Suarez, 212-261-4339

Published: 08.01.06

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