A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel will meet next month to consider over-the-counter sales status for the emergency contraceptive (EC) Plan B. New York-based Barr Laboratories, Inc. - which recently acquired Women's Capital Corporation, the manufacturer of Plan B - will speak with FDA panelists on December 16. "The idea of over-the-counter (sales) is to increase education and increase access," Barr spokeswoman Carol Cox told Bloomberg News.
EC, a concentrated dose of birth control hormones, is up to 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, contraception failure, or rape. The Feminist Majority Foundation joins a host of other reproductive health and rights groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Medical Association, in advocating FDA approval for over-the-counter status. Women's Capital Corporation submitted a request to the FDA last April for over-the-counter status of EC.
The New York state Comptroller's office released a report last week estimating that increased access to EC could save the state $452 million annually in health care costs, according to Kaisernetwork.org. Using actual Medicaid and representative private health insurance data, state Comptroller Alan Hevesi found nearly 60 percent of pregnancies in New York in 2000 were unintended, with the majority resulting in abortion. "Easy access to emergency contraception is a win for everyone. Women avoid pregnancies and abortions they don't want. And rapidly rising Medicaid costs will be cut by $254 million a year, saving money for the State and local governments. In addition, private insurers would save nearly $200 million," Hevesi said, according to his office's press release. Still, only 54 percent of pharmacies statewide carry EC. Among the report's recommendations are: permission for pharmacists to dispense EC under advance and/or phone prescriptions; support for FDA approval of over-the-counter EC status, and $10 million a year for five years to expand public education and awareness of EC.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .