The Reproductive Health Technologies Project announced on Monday that emergency contraception (EC) will be available behind pharmacy counters without a prescription for women 18 years and older as early as this week. Emergency contraception is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or rape, but it is most effective if taken within 24 hours. Because of the time-sensitive nature of EC, over-the-counter access is crucial to its effective use.
Also on Monday, a US magistrate announced that the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) will be able to subpoena White House documents for its lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CRR is suing the FDA for breaking its own regulations by involving politics in what should have been a scientific decision to make EC over-the-counter. The judge’s ruling also said that CRR will be able to depose former White House policy aide Jay Lefkowitz along with Dr. Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the FDA’s Office of New Drugs. The judge ruled that the FDA acted in “bad faith” in its decision-making process for making EC over-the-counter.
Said Nancy Northup, president of CRR, in a press release yesterday, “We are pleased that the court is not only allowing us to further explore seemingly inappropriate White House involvement in the FDA’s decision making… Our months of discovery have revealed that FDA scientists attempted to carry out a scientific approval process, but higher level officials made a mockery of that process, by ignoring the results and bowing to political pressures.”