British Medical Journal Lancet Calls on U.S. to Sell Morning After Pill OTC

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 19, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Medical Journal Lancet Calls on U.S. to Sell Morning After Pill OTC Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 19, 2006

London, England ( — Though it doesn’t publish in the United States, the British medical journal Lancet has called on the U.S. to approve over the counter status for the morning after pill. It says the Food and Drug Administration should stop delaying its decision and allow the drug, which can sometimes cause an abortion, to be sold without a doctor’s visit.

In its upcoming May 20 edition, the Lancet will say that acting FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach must make an independent decision on whether or not to approve Barr Pharmaceuticals’ request to sell the drug to women over the age of 16.

It says the agency and its lack of a decision about the drug has become mired in politics and if von Eschenbach wants Congressional approval to lead the agency on a permanent basis he needs to make a decision soon.

"His failure to issue a decision undermines both his credibility and that of the agency. Von Eschenbach should move quickly to approve Plan B to show he has the independence needed to be an effective leader of the FDA," the Lancet editorial will say.

"The agency is stalling, apparently to avoid offending antiabortion supporters of President Bush, who claim that the contraceptive is an abortifacient," it added.

"The FDA must be led by a commissioner willing to take independent stands, following the best judgment of his expert staff and scientific advisers, even when that means incurring the wrath of patients’ groups, industry, Congress and the White House," the Lancet said.

President Bush named the former National Cancer Institute director to head the FDA after its former commissioner Lester Crawford resigned for personal reasons.

However, pro-abortion Democrats Sen. Hillary Clinton, of New York, and Patty Murray, of Washington, have put a hold on von Eschenbach’s nomination until the agency makes a decision on the morning after pill.

A pro-life doctor who served on a FDA panel that looked at Barr’s first application to see the drug without a prescription says the contention of those who favor the drug that it will lower pregnancy and abortion rates is contradicted by two leading studies showing the opposite.

Dr. David Hager, a Kentucky OBGYN, says "A study done out of Scotland, a very well done study, concludes that advance provision of emergency contraception does not reduce abortion rates."

"They did not find an effect on lowering abortion rates in women who had these prescriptions or had the medication available," he indicated.

Meanwhile, Hager points to another study, done by the University of California at San Francisco and conducted by a Planned Parenthood medical advisor, that showed those rates did not decrease even when women were supplied with the Plan B drugs.

UCSF 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.