by Steven Ertelt
July 31, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — After a long delay that has angered abortion advocates, the Food and Drug Administration appears to be paving the way for over the counter sales of the morning after pill, which may cause an abortion in some instances. The agency has told the Plan B drug’s manufacturer that the drug may be sold to women over the age of 18.
The agency sent a letter to officials at Barr Laboratories wanting to discuss the details of the plan. An FDA statement said the arrangement could be completed in "a matter of weeks."
Under the setup, the morning after pills would be kept behind the pharmacy counter and women would need to ask to purchase them. Anyone under 18 would need a prescription from a physician.
"If the conversations go smoothly and everyone works expeditiously through this, we think this is something that could be wrapped up in a matter of weeks, not months," an FDA official told Reuters.
Barr spokeswoman Carol Cox told Reuters company officials will meet with FDA representatives over the next week to finalize the details.
"I’d say it’s a positive development that they would like to meet with us. We’ll have to wait until we meet with them to see what they require from us and what kind of timeline we can work forward on," Cox said.
The surprise announcement comes just one day before acting FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach will appear before a Senate committee for a hearing on whether to confirm his nomination.
Pro-abortion lawmakers, led by New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, put a hold on his nomination until the FDA moved forward on Barr’s request for over the counter status for the morning after pill.
The two released a statement Monday saying they still plan to prevent von Eschenbach’s nomination until the agency makes a final decision.
"Today’s announcement is nothing more than another delay tactic," the pair claimed. "The FDA continues to shirk its duty to serve as an independent agency dedicated to no other goal than the promotion of sound science and the well-being of the American people."
FDA spokeswoman Susan Bro said von Eschenbach wanted to spend Tuesday’s committee hearing on other issues and decided to move forward with a letter to Barr today to help take the focus off of the Plan B drug.
Some pro-life groups oppose the morning after pill because it may work as an abortion agent in some situations if taken between conception and implantation — in which case it would kill the unborn child at her earliest stage of life. Others are concerned that it will lead to more and riskier sex among teenagers who mistakenly think it prevents STDs.
Barr initially filed an application to sell the drug over the counter to all women and came back with a revised proposal to sell it only to girls over the age of 16 after the FDA said it did not submit enough research showing its effect on teenagers.
An FDA committee advised approving the request in December 2003 but, in August 2005, the agency indefinitely postponed any decision on the drug while it investigated enforcement issues.
The FDA also said Monday it had reviewed 47,000 public comments on the morning after pill and that the majority of them supported the drug.