FDA Expands Access to Generic Morning-After Pill

Cheaper alternatives to Plan B can now be sold over the counter without age restrictions

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The Food and Drug Administration has decided that generic and cheaper versions of popular morning-after contraceptive Plan B can be sold over the counter without age restrictions.

Generic versions of the emergency contraceptive were restricted to women ages 17 and older, but those restrictions have now been lifted, NPR reports. Women of any age can now choose between the original Plan B and generic versions of the drug, which prevent most pregnancies if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex for women who weigh less than 165 lb. (75 kg).

The restrictions were part of an exclusivity agreement granted to Plan B’s original maker,¬†Teva Pharmaceuticals, allowing it to be the only drug producer to sell the morning-after pill over the counter and without age requirements. Other pills had been restricted to 17-year-olds and over.

But the FDA said in a letter sent to Teva’s rivals that its rules were “too broad.” Its only stipulation now is that generic forms of the drug must say they are intended for “women 17 years of age or older,” but no ID check is required.

The decision marks over a decade of wrangling over the accessibility of Plan B.

“This is a significant leap forward in obtaining full, over-the-counter status for emergency contraception, and we commend the FDA for this decision,” said Jessica Arons, president and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project.

[NPR]