Plan B: One Step Closer to OTC

The Federal Government has recently dropped its appeal to put age limitations on those who can purchase the morning after pill. This means that Plan B One-Step will be available over-the-counter for women of all ages. This is a huge breakthrough for Teva Women’s Health INC., the makers of this pharmaceutical, but it may leave you with some concerns.

Understanding how Plan B works to prevent pregnancy is important to seeing the big picture. It is emergency contraception that can work in three ways. First is like any form of oral contraception in that it can prevent an egg from being released from the ovaries. Second is that it may prevent fertilization of an already released egg. And third, it may stop a fertilized egg from implanting into the wall of the uterus. It is also worth noting that Plan B is not an abortion pill. It cannot terminate pregnancy.

There are many arguments as to why this pill should not be readily available. Those who are in disfavor of removing the restrictions have concerns that it will promote promiscuity among young women, and that ignorance may lead to misuse. But research has shown that younger girls do understand how to use it properly, as well as that it does not protect them from disease. This research contributed to U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman’s original decision to lift restrictions.

The facts are that the pill is safe and effective for women of all ages. There are only minor side effects – none that are different from any daily oral contraceptive. And most importantly, it prevents pregnancy. Allowing the drug to be sold over-the-counter is the best distribution method. Putting a third party, like a prescription or a pharmacist, between the buyer and the product actually makes the pill less useful. The longer one waits to take it, the less time it has to do its job.

This ruling does not take effect immediately, though. Plan B has to apply for permissions to market its change to OTC. Sources say it will not take years, but there will certainly be many months before we see Plan B One-Step on the shelves.