Experts Speak Out Against FDA Delay on Emergency Contraception
Several members of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) expert advisory committees are speaking out against the agency’s delay of its decision to make the emergency contraceptive Plan B available without a prescription. Two doctors on the advisory committee and Jeffrey M. Drazen, MD, the editor of New England Journal of Medicine, published an opinion piece in this week’s issue of the journal charging that the postponement of the FDA’s decision on making EC available over-the-counter “suggests that the FDA's decision-making process is being influenced by political considerations.”
The doctors further argue that “treatment for any other condition, from hangnail to headache to heart disease, with a similar record of safety and efficacy would be approved quickly. Why has the FDA adopted its own plan B with respect to approval for over-the-counter use, instead of going ahead with the recommended approval?”
An overwhelming 23 out of the 27 FDA Reproductive Health Drugs and Nonprescription Advisory Committee members agreed that Emergency Contraception is safe, effective and meets all the requirements for over-the-counter status. Despite the recommendations of these expert medical committees made in December 2003, the FDA announced that it would delay its Feb. 20 decision on the status of the emergency contraceptive Plan B by 90 days.
Meanwhile, Barr Laboratories, the distributor of Plan B, and the FDA have been working on a compromise that would greatly restrict the accessibility of EC. According to the Washington Post, the compromise could include setting a minimum age to buy Plan B and keeping the drug behind-the-counter so that pharmacists can control sales.
Emergency contraception is safe, and most effective if taken within 24 hours after unprotected intercourse, contraceptive failure, or rape. “To deny women unrestricted over-the-counter access is simply unacceptable from a feminist and public health standpoint. Responsible women seeking to avoid an unintended pregnancy must be able to access this drug quickly. Access delayed is access denied,” said Feminist Majority Foundation Medical Director Beth Jordan, MD
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. . . .