HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Plan B Compromise for Over-the-Counter Use

National Public Radio had a thorough report on the recent compromise to permit Plan B to be over-the-counter for those women who are age 18 and over.  More information can be found in the New York Times.  It reports:

The F.D.A.’s acting commissioner, Andrew C. von Eschenbach, wrote that he decided that 18 was the appropriate cutoff for sales because pharmacies already restrict nicotine and cold medicines sales at that age.

“This approach builds on well-established state and private-sector infrastructures to restrict certain products to consumers 18 and older,” Dr. von Eschenbach wrote in a memorandum.

Dr. von Eschenbach’s predecessor, Dr. Lester M. Crawford, said last year that science supported giving over-the-counter access of the drug to women as young as 17, but that he could not figure out how to ensure that such an age restriction was enforced.

The agency has now decided that it will depend upon Barr to enforce the rules. Barr’s chairman, Bruce L. Downey, said in an interview that the company would rely on pharmacists to abide by the restrictions. Barr will not sell the pills to convenience stores, and the company will conduct surveys to measure whether the restrictions are being followed, Mr. Downey said.

According to the Times article, both sides of the debate over Plan B's availability are not happy with this result.  Those who wished for over-the-counter access believe that younger women may be injured by having to obtain a prescription for its use and those who opposed Plan B's over-the-counter availability believe that its increased availability will lead to an increase in sexually transmitted disease.

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