December 19, 2011
On December 7, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was poised to change the status of the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step®, allowing it to be sold without prescription and without age restrictions. But Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of Health and Human Services stopped the FDA from taking this critical step for women’s health, and President Barack Obama stands by her decision.
Email President Obama right now. Urge him to remove the age restriction from Plan B for science, medicine, and Americans’ health.
Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Project faculty member Atsuko Koyama, MD, MPH, was interviewed for NPR’s Morning Edition. Dr. Koyama, who is also a former Leadership Training Academy Fellow and current PRCH board member, said that keeping Plan B behind a pharmacy counter is a barrier regardless of age: “[H]aving to go in, show your ID, talk to someone you’ve never met before, and say ‘I need Plan B’ can be embarrassing.” Her remarks were quoted on White Coat Notes, the Boston Globe’s medical news blog.
Dr. Koyama also published a letter to the editor in the Globe: “Every woman, whether she is 16 or 36, should be able to buy Plan B as soon as possible after having unprotected sex, as the medication becomes less effective the longer one waits.”
In the Los Angeles Times, Melanie Gold, DO, of the Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Project, told a reporter “And because of [the age restriction], the drug’s behind the counter for everyone. It’s not just bad for kids under 17, it’s bad for everybody.”
In a letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Leadership Training Academy Fellow Sara Pentlicky, MD, emphasized Plan B’s safety: “In fact, there is not a single woman or teen I have ever seen who could not take Plan B, unless of course she couldn’t get it.”
PRCH board member Nancy Stanwood, MD, MPH, told Bloomberg.com about teens’ need for improved access to Plan B. The article also appeared on the Washington Post’s website.
On WebMD.com, Dr. Stanwood explained why the Obama administration’s decision is also a setback for survivors of sexual assault. “Many women who have been raped do not come in for medical care.” Over-the-counter access to Plan B, as opposed to asking a pharmacist for the medication only during pharmacy hours, would be a significant improvement in rape survivors’ access to emergency contraception.
Former PRCH board member Paula Hillard, MD, told ABC News’ website: “The original FDA Advisory committee that recommended approval for Plan B was virtually unanimous in its recommendation, and didn’t find reason to draw a line at 18 or 17 or any age. Sebelius and Obama should be ashamed.”
In this video on the ABC News website (scroll down to the first video on the left side), Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Project faculty member and former Leadership Training Initiative Fellow Lisa Perriera, MD, MPH, describes the logistical difficulties teens face when in need of emergency contraception. Read More