FDA Approves Plan B's Over-the-Counter Sale
No Prescription Will Be Required for Women 18 or Older
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 25, 2006; A04
By the end of the year, American women will be able to walk into any pharmacy and buy emergency
contraceptive pills without a prescription as a result of a Food and Drug Administration decision announced
The decision means women will not have to go to a doctor first as long as they can prove they are 18 or older to
a pharmacist, who will keep the drugs behind a counter. Younger teenagers will still need a prescription, and the
pills will not be sold at gas stations, convenience stores or other outlets that do not have pharmacists.
The approval marks the first time a hormonal contraceptive will be broadly available in the United States
without a prescription. The pills, which will be sold as Plan B, will probably cost about $25 to $40 per dose, and
men will also be able to buy them.
The announcement was aimed at resolving one of the longest and highest-profile health controversies of the
Bush administration, but opponents said they are considering plans to block the decision, either in court or in
"This decision has nothing to do with science or FDA rules but has everything to do with
Coburn (R-Okla.) said.
Coburn and other
social conservatives said that the high doses of hormones in the pills carry risks, and that
making them more easily available
will encourage sexual activity
and result in more unwanted pregnancies
and sexually transmitted diseases. Opponents also liken taking the pills to abortion, because they can sometimes
prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb.
"This is a bad decision for women, for girls, for parents and for public health," said Wendy Wright of
Concerned Women for America, which led a campaign to block the decision. "The FDA's decision today will
only make things worse for American women."
Women's health and family-planning advocates, while criticizing the FDA for the age restriction, hailed the
decision as a long-overdue milestone that will make it much easier for women to prevent an unwanted
pregnancy when they have unprotected sex or when another form of contraception, such as a condom, fails.
Plan B will be particularly valuable to rape victims, they said.
great news for women and great news for women's health," said Cecile Richards of the
Parenthood Federation of America. "This provides women with
another important option
The FDA's move reverses a decision it made three years ago prohibiting over-the-counter sales of the drug. That
decision, which rejected the advice of the agency's outside advisers and internal reviewers, triggered intense
criticism that the administration was letting political ideology influence scientific decisions, undermining the
credibility and independence of
an agency charged with protecting the nation's health