FDA Approval of Over-the-Counter Emergency Contraception Uncertain
Barr Laboratories, distributors of the emergency contraceptive Plan B, are reportedly concerned that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will not approve their proposal to make the drug available without a prescription. Carole Ben-Maimon, president of Barr Laboratories' research division, told the Washington Post that she thinks “an approval is not a likely scenario." An overwhelming majority of expert FDA advisory panel members agreed in a December meeting that emergency contraception (EC) is safe, effective and meets all the requirements for over-the-counter status.
The medical community and women’s rights and health advocates accuse the FDA of succumbing to a vocal minority of right-wing political pressure and disregarding science in their decision to postpone the final ruling until May 21. In a statement issued yesterday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health urged that “politics should not trump medical evidence for making Plan B available over-the-counter.”
Feminist Majority Foundation Medical Director Beth Jordan, MD concurred: “This decision should be made on scientific merit, not politics. The safety and efficacy of EC has never been in question and to deny women unrestricted over-the-counter access is simply unacceptable from a public health standpoint.”
EC is up to 95 percent effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 24 hours after unprotected sex, failed contraception, or rape. It is safer than aspirin, meets all of the FDA's requirements for over the counter status, and has the potential to prevent 800,000 abortions in the United States annually.
“The voices of a vocal majority make an enormous difference,” says Dr. Jordan. “Join the majority of Americans who support over-the-counter access to EC and immediately urge the FDA to follow the advice of its own expert advisory panel, stop playing politics with women’s lives, and make emergency contraception available over the counter.”
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .
10/30/2014 UPS Switches Pregnant Worker Policy Ahead of Supreme Court Case - The United Parcel Service (UPS) is changing its policy on light duty assignments for pregnant workers, even though the company will stand by its refusal to extend accommodations to a former employee in an upcoming Supreme Court case.
UPS announced on Monday in a memo to employees, and in a brief filed with the US Supreme Court, that the company will begin offering temporary, light-duty positions to pregnant workers on January 1, 2015. . . .
10/30/2014 North Dakota Medical Students Speak Out Against Measure 1 - Medical students at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences are asking North Dakotans to vote no on Measure 1, a personhood measure on the state ballot this fall.
The students issued published a letter in the Grand Forks Herald stating that they opposed Measure 1 in part because they are against "the government's taking control of the personal health care decisions of its citizens." Nearly 60 UND School of Medicine students signed the letter, citing concerns over the "very broad and ambiguous language" used in the proposed amendment, which has no regard for serious and life-threatening medical situations such as ectopic pregnancies.
Measure 1 would change the North Dakota state constitution to create an "inalienable right to life" for humans "at any stage of development" - including the moment of fertilization and conception. . . .