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FDA to ease access to Plan B contraception.

A federal court issued an order in late March directing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to permit the Plan B emergency contraceptive drug manufacturer to make the medication available without a prescription to women ages 17 and older.

While the agency had until late May to appeal the decision, FDA officials said in an April statement they would not appeal. FDA also sent a letter informing Plan B manufacturer Duramed Research Inc. that the company may, after approval of an application, market Plan B without a prescription to women ages 17 and older.

The Center for Reproductive Rights sued FDA in 2005 for failing to grant over-the-counter status to Plan B, also known as the "morning-after pill," against the advice of its own scientific experts. FDA's April statement said allowing Plan B to be marketed without a prescription was both consistent with the court's order and "consistent with the scientific findings since 2005 by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research."

The decision was also lauded by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If taken within 72 hours, emergency contraception is highly effective in preventing pregnancy and is most effective if taken within 24 hours.
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Title Annotation:NATION IN BRIEF
Author:Currie, Donya
Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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