The US Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency contraceptive Next Choice, a generic version of Plan B, for over-the-counter use. Next Choice, manufactured by Watson Pharmaceuticals, was first approved by the FDA for prescription use on June 24, according to the Pharmaceutical Business Review. Next Choice will be available over-the-counter to women ages 17 and older and with a prescription for women under 17 years old.
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) President Nancy Ratzan said in a statement, “Despite recent efforts to increase access to emergency contraception, cost is still a barrier for many women…all women, regardless of age, income, religion, race or geographic location should have access to the full range of contraceptive options. The introduction of a generic for Plan B is an important step toward achieving that important goal.” Next Choice is priced around 10% less than Plan B, according to the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (see PDF).
Emergency contraception (EC) 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. EC does not terminate an existing pregnancy.