Federal Judge Rules Emergency Contraception “Plan B” Can Be Sold Over the Counter to All Women Of Child-Bearing Age

Decision brings decade-long dispute to a close

Published Apr 5, 2013

WASHINGTON (April 5, 2013) – A federal judge ruled today that women of all ages should be able to purchase the emergency contraception pill Plan B, over the counter. When taken as directed, Plan B can safely and effectively prevent pregnancies. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decisions on the pill have been subject to political interference for nearly a decade, according to the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

 “A federal judge has accomplished what two administrations failed to do: make a decision about access to a drug based on medical evidence,” said Michael Halpern, program manager at the center, in a post on UCS’s blog, The Equation. “It’s just common sense for the government to make drug approval and access decisions solely based on the best available science, not on hunches or political calculations. The decision brings a decade of politics trumping science on this issue to an end.”

 During the Bush administration, political appointees at the FDA blocked the agency from approving Plan B for over-the-counter sale to women of all ages. In December 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services ordered the FDA  to refrain from allowing over-the-counter access to Plan B, the first and only time a presidential administration has intervened in a drug decision.