The Obama administration has decided to stop trying to block over-the-counter availability of the most popular morning-after contraceptive pill for all women and girls, a move fraught with political repercussions for President Obama.
The reversal by the government means that any woman or girl will soon be able to walk into a drugstore and buy the pill, Plan B One-Step, without a prescription.
The Justice Department had been fighting to prevent that outcome, but said late Monday afternoon that it would drop its appeal of a judge’s order to make the drug more widely available. In a letter to Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the administration said it would comply with his demands that the Food and Drug Administration be allowed to certify the drug for nonprescription use.
It’s important to remember that this isn’t the Obama administration striking out into uncharted territory. This is them now getting in line with science. When Sec. Sebelius previously overruled the FDA, that was the first time ever a secretary of HHS had done so. It’s also important to remember that no matter how much they claimed that “research was needed” to understand how adolescents would use the drug, that research had already been conducted, and was why the FDA had granted its approval.
Before any of you start in on your own safety concerns, remember this:
In 2009, there were over 70,000 calls to poison control centers for concerns about acetaminophen and more than 88,000 for ibuprofen. More than 30,000 calls were made for diphenhydramine, and 4 of those cases resulted in deaths. Just looking at kids 5 years of age and under, there were more than 130,000 calls for analgesics, 53,000 for vitamins, 48,000 for antihistamines, and 45,000 for cough and cold preparations.
No one is demanding any of those drugs be restricted in this manner.
And if any of you make a crack about Plan B being sold next to “bubblegum and batteries”, I’ll remind you again that battery ingestions kill a couple kids each year. Plan B kills no one.
UPDATE: Sarah Kliff points out to me that President Obama has not changed his mind about Plan B, according to officials. It’s just that the Justice Department thought they couldn’t defend his position in court and win. So I suppose I should laud the outcome, but continue to scowl in President Obama’s general direction. On this, he should know better.
[Originally posted at The Incidental Economist]