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Center for Reproductive Rights Challenges FDA Over Emergency Contraception Access

Center for Reproductive Rights Challenges FDA Over Emergency Contraception Access

November 19, 2010 — The Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a motion for contempt against FDA for failing to respond to a court order instructing it to reconsider permitting over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception to women of all ages, the New Mexico Independent reports. The drug currently is available without a prescription to women ages 17 and older (Doland, New Mexico Independent, 11/16).

In March 2009, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled that FDA's 2006 decision to limit access of the EC drug Plan B to women ages 18 and older was politically motivated and scientifically flawed. Korman ordered FDA to make Plan B available to 17-year-olds and re-examine other restrictions, including if non-prescription access should be available to all ages. FDA announced the following month that it would allow non-prescription sales of Plan B to individuals ages 17 years and older (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/23/09). The agency also said it would reconsider making Plan B available without a prescription to all ages.

However, FDA this year said it no longer plans to reconsider expanding availability of Plan B, despite the court order, according to CRR's lawsuit (Center for Reproductive Rights release, 11/16). CRR argues that President Obama is stalling on his promise to expand access to EC and allow it to be sold without a prescription to all ages.

CRR President Nancy Northup said FDA "has had ample time, countless opportunities and overwhelming scientific evidence put before it to make a decision on Plan B." Obama "promised that his administration would reverse the [George W. Bush administration's] policy of politics trumping science," Northup said, adding, "But when it comes to emergency contraception, it's the new administration playing the same old games."

Suzanne Novak, lead counsel in the case, said, "All of the scientific facts are there, and FDA experts agree -- [EC] has proven safe and effective to be sold over-the-counter to all ages." She added, "It's time for the FDA to stop stonewalling, follow the science and make [EC] available without a prescription to women of all ages" (New Mexico Independent, 11/16).