Judge rules FDA must make morning-after pill over-the-counter

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on April 5, 2013 at 5:29 PM

DALLAS -- Until now, the morning-after pill has been kept behind the pharmacy counter.

A controversial decision two years ago by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius required girls under 17 to have a prescription. Scientists, the FDA, and other major medical groups had been recommending unrestricted access, saying studies reinforce the safety of selling it over the counter.

Edward R. Korman of Federal District Court ruled Friday that the pill should be available over-the-counter to people of any age. Judge Korman said the government's refusal to lift restrictions was "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."

"[...]Which will mean people can get quicker access to a good method of preventing unintended pregnancy, and can get it without going through unnecessary hoops," said Leslie Kantor of the Planned Parenthood Federation America. "We see it as a triumph of science."

Name-brand and generic versions of the morning-after pill can block fertilization if taken within 72 hours of sex. The pills come in one and two-pill versions.

Opponents are outraged that adolescents and teenagers will be able to take emergency contraception without parental knowledge or consent.

"So the problem here, in having those over the counter, is that these teens are going to be avoiding medical screenings by doctors," said Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council. "And so these STD's, and increased STD's that are a result of increased sexual behavior amongst teens are going to be unidentified and untreated."

The judge ordered the FDA to lift age and sale restrictions within 30 days.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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