The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that the morning-after pill has been approved for girls and women 15 and older without a prescription, as well as putting it out on drugstore shelves instead of keeping it stashed behind the pharmacy counter.
The decision only applies to Plan B One-Step and not two other two-step generic pills. Previously, only women 17 and older could get the pill without a prescription.
The FDA commissioner said in a statement that data proved that 15-year-olds “were able to understand how Plan B One-Step works, how to use it properly, and that it does not prevent the transmission of a sexually transmitted disease.”
As for the reason why only Plan B’s pill is included in the ruling, it’s because there isn’t enough data to show that the two-dose iterations would be used responsibly by younger teenagers without having a health provider help them out, an FDA spokeswoman told the New York Times.
This decision doesn’t really take into account a federal judge’s ruling last month that the FDA had 30 days to make the pill available for all ages without a prescription, not just 15 and up. Apparently the FDA and the White House, along with the Department of Justice, aren’t sure yet if they’ll appeal the ruling.
Buying Plan B will work kind of like when someone wants to buy beer at a grocery store — a product code will get scanned by a cashier and pop up an alert that proof of age is required.
One of the biggest changse here is having Plan B displayed along with family planning or feminine hygiene products on stores’ shelves. Proponents of making emergency contraception available said some teens could get discouraged if the pharmacy is closed when they need the pill, or if they have to ask for it to be brought out from under lock and key.
Drug Agency Lowers Age for Next-Day Birth Control [New York Times]