Pediatricians Group Backs Morning After Pill OTC Status, Despite Studies

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 2, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pediatricians Group Backs Morning After Pill OTC Status, Despite Studies Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 2, 2005

Washington, DC ( — With its decision to delay a request to sell the morning after pill over the counter, the FDA asked for further public comment on whether such an action is a good idea. The American Academy of Pediatrics jumped into the debate on Thursday and released a policy statement saying the drugs should be sold without first consulting a doctor.

The policy says that the Plan B drugs, which can sometimes cause an abortion, are safe. AAP said the morning after pill should not be confused with the RU 486 mifepristone abortion drug, which ends the life of an unborn child several weeks into pregnancy.

AAUP says the morning after pill does not have the ability to kill a newly conceived unborn child who has implanted in the uterine lining and begun to grow and develop. That’s the mechanism RU 486 uses.

However, in addition to preventing pregnancy, the morning after pill, if taken after the LH surge that triggers ovulation, can prevent implantation and destroy the unborn child before she has a chance to attach to the uterus and grow.

AAP also backed the morning after pill saying it "has tremendous potential to reduce unintended pregnancy rates in teens and adults."

That’s not what a study conducted by researchers at the University of San Francisco found.

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco tracked 2,117 local women from age 15 to 24 who participated in the study for six months. Some women were given a personal supply of the pills, another group were told to obtain the pills at a local pharmacy, and a third group were instructed to get the drugs from a local health clinic.

The study found that increased access to the "morning after" pill did not lower pregnancy rates, because many women did not use the pills. In fact, only 55 percent of the women who had the pills already in their possession took them following sexual intercourse.

Regardless of which of the three control groups the women were placed in, the results showed the same percentage of women in each group had sex, contracted sexually transmitted diseases and became pregnant at the same rates.

Dr. Susan Crockett, a Texas obstetrician and gynecologist, told the Los Angeles Times the FDA was right to delay the decision because of concerns about legal policy and enforcement of selling the drug to women but not young teenagers.

"We are being faced with … a new way of distributing a prescription medication," said Crockett, a former member of the FDA’s reproductive drugs panel. "It is worth going through the process of setting it up right."

Crockett told the Times she hopes the drug stays as a prescription-only one.

"I have more of a concern about the public health aspects," she said. "As a gynecologist, I see good reasons for it to stay as a prescription drug so I get to see my patients, and they get to see me, and they are well taken care of."