By Elizabeth Wiley, JD, MPH
AMSA Vice President of Internal Affairs
In an act motivated by politics rather than scientific evidence, Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has decided to keep Plan B emergency contraception from being sold over the counter, overruling the decision of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D.
Currently, Plan B is sold behind pharmacy counters and is available without a prescription only for those 17 or older. At issue was whether the current age restrictions on the purchase of Plan B (levonorgestrel) should be lifted in light of new evidence that even the youngest girls of reproductive age were capable of using Plan B safely and effectively
. After a ten-month review, Dr. Hamburg stated, “there is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential.” Secretary Sebelius’s veto of this evidence-based decision is unprecedented.
As a form of emergency contraception, Plan B is most effective when used within 72 hours of intercourse. Current over-the-counter age restrictions prevent retailers from stocking this form of contraception on the shelves and create barriers to ...