The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that it will not appeal a court order directing the FDA to make emergency contraception available over-the-counter to women as young as 17. Edward Korman, a New York District Court Judge, ruled in March that the FDA must reconsider its 2006 ruling that allowed emergency contraception, also known as Plan B, to be sold without a prescription to women 18 and older (see PDF).
In a statement, the FDA stated “In accordance with the court’s order, and consistent with the scientific findings made in 2005 by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA notified the manufacturer of Plan B informing the company that it may…market Plan B without a prescription to women 17 years of age and older.”
Emergency contraception is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, birth control failure, or rape, but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours. Because of the time-sensitive nature of EC, over-the-counter access is crucial to its effective use.