The Associated Press reported in a tweet that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved over-the-counter sales of the morning after pill, also known as “Plan B”, for teens aged fifteen and up:
BREAKING: FDA: Over-the-counter sale of morning-after pill OK for ages 15 and up; cashier to check age. -SS
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 30, 2013
While the FDA initially recommended that Plan B be available without a prescription for women of all ages in 2011, the Obama Administration overruled that decision to restrict access over-the-counter access for those under the age of 17. Earlier this month, a U.S. federal judge ordered the FDA to remove that limitation, calling the emergency contraceptives “among the safest drugs sold over the counter” and chiding the Administration for its “political interference.”
Today’s changes do not fully comply with the judge’s order to remove all restrictions, as Nancy Northrup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, noted in a statement:
“The FDA is under a federal court order that makes it crystal clear that emergency contraception must be made available over the counter, without restriction to women of all ages by next Monday […] Lowering the age restriction to 15 for over-the-counter access to Plan B One-Step 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 or after the pharmacy gates have been closed for the night or weekend.“
Medical professionals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, have voiced support for easing restrictions on access, noting that prescriptions add another barrier for adolescents who need the pill and the time it takes to arrange a doctor’s visit can reduce the medication’s effectiveness.