Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected granting Plan B, the emergency contraception pill, over-the-counter access. This decision means that women across America, young and old, must continue to get emergency contraception with a prescription, often delaying treatment and increasing the chances of unwanted pregnancy.
This decision is particularly troubling because in doing so, the FDA ignored the overwhelming recommendations of both its own advisory board and of a number of other national medical associations. In its statement on the issue, the FDA cited a lack of adequate testing on younger women as a reason for the drug’s rejection. This is flimsy at best. Many drugs are sold over the counter and are effectively regulated by age or other means. Plan B could quite easily have been granted limited over-the-counter access, benefiting numerous women while sufficient further testing was completed.
The FDA’s motives are further questioned when it is considered that emergency contraception is available over-the-counter in 33 other countries. It is hard to believe that the FDA could not find relevant clinical data from elsewhere that could supplement their missing demographic.
The President’s conservative views on contraception and sexual education are well known, and it is dangerously clear that the FDA’s decision was ideologically directed from above, whether it was from the Bush-appointed conservative David Hager or from the President himself. We count on the FDA to make scientific, medically accurate decisions regarding the safety of new drugs attempting to enter the market but in this decision they have failed us.