Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Let ruling on morning-after pill stand

  • Print

Putting an age restriction on buying the most common emergency contraception over the counter was never sound from a medical point of view. Now a federal judge has upset the political calculus behind the restriction, as well.

By the time the Food and Drug Administration decided, in late 2011, to lift the rule that girls under age 17 need a prescription for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s Plan B, the pill’s safety was well-established. What’s more, research had shown that the drug, which had been characterized as an abortion pill, was nothing of the sort. It works by interfering with fertilization. There’s no evidence that it blocks the development of an already fertilized egg.

Yet Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s decision, and President Barack Obama endorsed her unprecedented action, arguing that, without an age limit, a 10- or 11-year-old could go to a drugstore and — "alongside bubble gum or batteries — be able to buy a medication that potentially, if not used properly, could end up having an adverse effect."

as federal Judge Edward R. Korman pointed out in overruling Sebelius’s action, HOWEVER, when it comes to safety, "the standards are the same for aspirin and for contraceptives."

If anything, age restrictions on the morning-after pill are a bigger problem than they would be for pain relievers. Many doctors have explained why. The pill is most effective if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex; there often isn’t time for users to see a doctor before going to the pharmacy. Last November, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that its members work around the age restriction by prescribing the drug to teens in advance. (The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also support making the morning-after pill available with no restrictions.)

Korman denounced Sebelius’s interference in FDA decision-making just as he had earlier denounced efforts by THE George W. Bush White House to delay FDA action on the morning-after pill. The reasons Sebelius gave for her move — including "cognitive and behavioural" differences in the youngest reproductive-age girls — were "so unpersuasive as to call into question her good faith," the judge said.

Korman instructed the FDA to make emergency contraceptives available with no prescription or age restrictions within 30 days.

Now Sebelius must decide whether to appeal the ruling. With the presidential election that loomed over the secretary’s 2011 action well past, she should let the judge’s order stand.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Can Steeves or Bowman catch Wasylycia-Leis?

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Have you decided which mayoral candidate will get your vote?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google