Plan B


Women who need a last-minute solution to prevent pregnancy can now get it without a prescription.

The FDA has approved the controversial Plan B morning after pill, opening the door for Senate confirmation of President Bush's FDA nominee.

Plan B will be sold over the counter at pharmacies only to women over 18. Women under 18 can get it by prescription.

That age restriction issue had held up approval for years, and blocked senate confirmation of FDA acting chief Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach. Now Senators, like Hillary Clinton, have dropped their objections.

"The FDA is back to doing the job it was supposed to do, getting it out of politics."

By restricting the availability to teenagers, supporters accused the Bush administration of trying to legislate morality.

Dr. Sydney Wolfe is one of those glad to see the approval.

"It's several years of lost time, several years of women who have become pregnant, who wouldn't have become pregnant, many of whom are having abortions."

There is some evidence the pill not only prevents fertilization, but prevents implantation. Opponents call that abortion.

Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council says even with the age restriction there's no way the government can keep Plan B out of the hands of young girls.

"We all know we've not been successful at keeping cigarettes and other tobacco products away from young children. This simply is not going to work."

The FDA admits it can't control adults buying the drug for teenagers, but Dr. Steven Galson says it’s like being on the honor system.

"But we have a strong enforcement program and I don't think people will do this without thinking very, very carefully first."

The FDA is requiring the manufacturer, Barr Pharmaceuticals, to use secret shoppers to make sure pharmacists are keeping the drug behind the counter and checking IDs.

The over the counter version of Plan B should be available for sale before the end of this year.


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