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Keep Plan B behind the counter

May 1, 2009 - Nikki Younk
Last week, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it would not appeal a judge's decision that directed the agency to make emergency contraception, known as Plan B, available to 17-year-olds without a prescription.

Previously, Plan B could only be obtained with a prescription, until 2006, when it became available over the counter to those 18 years old or older.

Obviously, there is a great debate over this development. It opens discussion to issues such as teen pregnancy, abortion, and parental rights. I’ll try to refrain from getting into those issues right now, although I’m tempted to...

While I do applaud the FDA’s decision to take a progressive view on women’s reproductive rights, I don’t think that making Plan B available over the counter is the right idea.

I believe that nobody should be able to obtain Plan B over the counter, whether you’re 17 or 37. Plan B contains hormones that are also found in certain birth control pills, but interestingly, you can only get birth control pills with a prescription.

A quick check at several drug interaction websites reveals that the active ingredient in Plan B, levonorgestrel, may have negative interactions with well over 100 prescription drugs and herbal supplements. Without a doctor’s evaluation, women could be putting their health at risk by taking the drug.

On the other hand, I do understand that emergency contraception works best when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Often, it’s impossible to get a doctor’s appointment with only 72 hours notice.

For now, I guess we’ll just have to hope that women of all ages understand the risk they’re taking with Plan B and will be open and honest with their pharmacists so that risk can be minimized.


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