FDA lowers age for buyers of Plan B pill to 15 - WSPA.com

FDA lowers age for buyers of Plan B pill to 15

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON DC (WFLA) -

In a surprise twist to the decade-plus effort to ease access to morning-after pills, the government is lowering the age limit to 15 for one brand - Plan B One-Step - and will let it be sold over the counter.

Today, Plan B and its generic competition are sold behind pharmacy counters, and people must prove they're 17 or older to buy the emergency contraception without a prescription. A federal judge had ordered an end to those sales restrictions by next Monday.

But Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a different approach: Plan B could sit on drugstore shelves next to condoms, spermicides or other women's health products - but to make the purchase, buyers must prove they're 15 or older at the cash register.

Manufacturer Teva Women's Health, which had applied for the compromise path, said it planned to make the switch in a few months.

The question is whether Tuesday's action settles the larger court fight. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman of New York blasted the Obama administration for imposing the age-17 limit, saying it had let election-year politics trump science and were making it hard for women of any age to obtain emergency contraception in time for it to work.

The FDA said Tuesday's decision was independent of the court case and wasn't intended to address it. The Justice Department remained mum on whether it planned to appeal Korman's ruling by Monday's deadline, and the White House had no immediate comment.

The women's group that sued over the age limits said Tuesday's action is not enough, and it will continue the court fight if necessary.

Lowering the age limit "may reduce delays for some young women but it does nothing to address the significant barriers that far too many women of all ages will still find if they arrive at the drugstore without identification," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The FDA said the Plan B One-Step will be packaged with a product code that prompts the cashier to verify a customer's age. Anyone who can't provide such proof as a driver's license, birth certificate or passport wouldn't be allowed to complete the purchase. In most states, driver's licenses, the most common form of identification, are issued at age 16.

"While an improvement over current policy, today's announcement is still disappointing," said Marcia D. Greenberger of the National Women's Law Center. "Because all women will be required to show an ID to establish their age, those without IDs could be denied access."

Other advocates called the move promising. "This decision is a step in the right direction for increased access to a product that is a safe and effective method of preventing unintended pregnancies," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. "It's also a decision that moves us closer to these critical availability decisions being based on science, not politics."

Social conservatives had opposed any efforts to loosen restrictions on sale of the morning-after pill, arguing that it was important for parents and medical professionals to be involved in such decisions involving young girls.

The group Concerned Women for America charged that health officials were putting politics and so-called progress ahead of the health of children as well as women.

"It makes no sense that kids need parental permission to take aspirin at school, but they're free to buy and administer Plan B," Penny Nance, CEO and president of CWA, said in a statement.

Half the nation's pregnancies every year are unintended, and doctors groups say more access to morning-after pills could cut those numbers. The pills contain higher doses of regular contraceptives and, if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, can cut the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent. But they work best if taken in the first 24 hours.

The FDA had been poised to lift all age limits and let Plan B be sold over the counter in late 2011, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in an unprecedented move, overruled her own scientists. Sebelius said some girls as young as 11 are physically capable of bearing children but shouldn't be able to buy the pregnancy-preventing pill on their own.

President Barack Obama supported Sebelius' move and a spokesman said the president's position hadn't changed.

The Justice Department could appeal Korman's ruling and seek a stay. If granted, the appeals process would move through the courts, while Plan B is sold over the counter whenever Teva has the product repackaged to meet the FDA's requirements.

Absent a stay, "we will want to go back to court as quickly as possible and ask the judge to hold them in contempt," said Janet Crepps, a senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The FDA said Tuesday that Teva had provided data proving that girls as young as 15 could understand how Plan B works and use it properly, without the involvement of a health care provider. Teva plans to conduct a consumer-education program and indicated it is willing to audit whether stores are following the age requirement, the agency said.

The FDA said its ruling applies only to Plan B One-Step, and not to generic versions of the pill, which would remain behind pharmacy counters with the age-17 restriction.

If a woman already is pregnant, the morning-after pill has no effect. It prevents ovulation or fertilization of an egg. According to the medical definition, pregnancy doesn't begin until a fertilized egg implants itself into the wall of the uterus. Still, some critics say Plan B is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it may also be able to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, a contention that many scientists - and Korman, in his ruling - said has been discredited.

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:15:59 GMT
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
  • Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:01 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:01:38 GMT
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
  • Apple recalls iPhones for battery trouble

    Apple recalls iPhones for battery trouble

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 8:16 AM EDT2014-08-26 12:16:28 GMT
    Noticed your iPhone's battery life getting shorter? You may be eligible for a free replacement.
    Noticed your iPhone's battery life getting shorter? You may be eligible for a free replacement.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Tanker overturns on I-75, spills gas, closes lanes for hours

    Tanker overturns on I-75, spills gas, closes lanes for hours

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:29 AM EDT2014-08-27 14:29:11 GMT
    Northbound lanes on Interstate 75 between Bee Ridge Road and Fruitville Road are blocked since Wednesday morning after an accident involving a tanker.
    Northbound lanes on Interstate 75 between Bee Ridge Road and Fruitville Road are blocked since Wednesday morning after an accident involving a tanker.
  • School officials to explain new Florida Standards

    School officials to explain new Florida Standards

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:13 AM EDT2014-08-27 09:13:59 GMT
    The majority of state's now use Common Core, a learning system that demands the same basics for every student. This school year, Florida is rolling out it's own tweaked version called the Florida Standards.
    The majority of state's now use Common Core, a learning system that demands the same basics for every student. This school year, Florida is rolling out it's own tweaked version called the Florida Standards.
  • Duke Energy to announce changes

    Duke Energy to announce changes

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:02 AM EDT2014-08-27 09:02:58 GMT
    Jolted by customers fed up with Duke's rollout of a plan to avoid duplicating meter reader routes, it appears the utility is ready to throw in the towel. Wednesday morning, we expect the company to announce changes that could include bill credits.
    Jolted by customers fed up with Duke's rollout of a plan to avoid duplicating meter reader routes, it appears the utility is ready to throw in the towel. Wednesday morning, we expect the company to announce changes that could include bill credits.
  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • Greenville Man Arrested, Charged With Lexington County Shooting

    Greenville Man Arrested, Charged With Lexington County Shooting

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:48 AM EDT2014-08-27 14:48:38 GMT
    Mugshot: Juan Hernandez-Torres, Lexington County Sheriff's OfficeMugshot: Juan Hernandez-Torres, Lexington County Sheriff's Office
    A man from Greenville has been arrested and charged with a shooting in Lexington County. Lexington County Sheriff's Office spokesman John Allard stated that Juan Hernandez-Torres, 38, was arrested after a traffic stop and brief manhunt in Laurens County Tuesday night.
    A man from Greenville has been arrested and charged with a shooting in Lexington County. Lexington County Sheriff's Office spokesman John Allard stated that Juan Hernandez-Torres, 38, was arrested after a traffic stop and brief manhunt in Laurens County Tuesday night.
  • 15 Children Removed From Woodruff Home, 7 Adults Charged

    15 Children Removed From Woodruff Home, 7 Adults Charged

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:37 AM EDT2014-08-27 14:37:06 GMT
    15 children were removed from a home in Woodruff and warrants have been signed for seven adults who were responsible for their care.15 children were removed from a home in Woodruff and warrants have been signed for seven adults who were responsible for their care.
    Fifteen children were removed from a home in Woodruff and warrants have been signed for seven adults who were responsible for their care. The Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit worked the case Tuesday at a home on Hunter Road.
    Fifteen children were removed from a home in Woodruff and warrants have been signed for seven adults who were responsible for their care. The Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit worked the case Tuesday at a home on Hunter Road.
  • Fountain Inn Man Killed On Greenpond Road

    Fountain Inn Man Killed On Greenpond Road

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 9:30 AM EDT2014-08-27 13:30:18 GMT
    1 dead after crash in Greenville County.1 dead after crash in Greenville County.
    A Fountain Inn man was killed in an accident on Greenpond Road early Wednesday morning. Donald Lance Tucker, 29, was killed in the crash near Martin Road just after 12:30 a.m. 
    A Fountain Inn man was killed in an accident on Greenpond Road early Wednesday morning. Donald Lance Tucker, 29, was killed in the crash near Martin Road just after 12:30 a.m. according to the Greenville County Coroner.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.