A morning after pill known as Plan B, approved by the FDA in mid-1999, is now available to Washington state women who want to prevent pregnancy without visiting a doctor first. The pill is an emergency contraceptive that should be taken within 72 hours after intercourse. According to a special provision in Washington state’s law, Plan B can be sold in pharmacies without a physician’s prescription. Public health groups in California, Oregon and Alaska may be able to offer a similar opportunity to women under provisions in those states’ laws, as well.
The pill’s accessibility without a prescription could dramatically reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and could offer minors a feasible method of preventing pregnancy. Women’s Capital Corporation, directed by Dr. Sharon Camp, noted feminist authority on family planning, markets and distributes Plan B and intends to apply to the FDA for approval of over the counter sales of Plan B in 2001. In contrast to other emergency contraceptive measures that can result in nausea for a majority of women, Plan B’s side effects are minimal. Thirty thousand women in Washington state have received the pill so far.