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NH Gov Increases EC Access; Women Senators Demand FDA Decision on EC OTC

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch (D) signed a bill (SB 30) yesterday to make emergency contraception (EC) available to women without a prescription. Known as behind-the-counter access, this law will allow pharmacists to write prescriptions for EC on a voluntary basis after receiving training provided by the state Board of Pharmacy, reports the Kaiser Network. While this is a step removed from over-the-counter (OTC) status, behind-the-counter availability will nonetheless improve women’s access to EC in New Hampshire. This bill makes New Hampshire the seventh state to allow behind-the-counter access to EC, along with Maine, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Washington, and New Mexico, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the FDA continues to delay its decision about over-the-counter status of Plan B, a brand of emergency contraception produced by Barr Laboratories. On Wednesday, women Senators moved to place increased pressure on the FDA to make its decision. Following a Senate Committee’s approval of Lester Crawford’s nomination to the post of FDA Commissioner, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) placed a hold on the nomination, preventing a floor vote until the FDA makes a final decision about Barr Laboratories’ application for Plan B OTC status.

In a statement criticizing the Bush administration on Wednesday, Senator Clinton charged that “What we are witnessing is the FDA – an agency whose mission is to protect public health – being run not on the basis of science, but of ideology.” Senator Murray joined Clinton in criticizing the FDA, saying “We are asking the FDA to explain why they are delaying an over-the-counter application for Plan B that even their own Advisory Panel overwhelmingly recommended for approval.”

TAKE ACTION Urge the FDA to immediately approve over-the-counter status for emergency contraception

LEARN MORE Download a fact sheet on emergency contraception for pharmacy access states

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Sources:

Kaisernetwork.org 6/17/05; Reuters 6/15/05, 6/16/05; Floor Statement by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton 6/15/05; Senator Patty Murray 6/15/05; The Associated Press 6/15/05; New York Times 6/16/05; Washington Post 6/16/05