Morning-after pill decision delayed

Women looking for emergency contraceptives will have no luck finding access to the morning-after pill (Plan B) over the counter.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s reproductive health drugs advisory and nonprescription drugs panel announced it would delay its decision on over-the-counter status for the emergency contraceptive, Plan B, by 90 days.

The decision was originally slated for February 20.

“The scientific evidence and health benefits to women propelling this request for [over-the-counter] emergency contraceptive access are undeniable,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. “Access delayed is access denied.”

Susan Cruzan, FDA public affairs specialist, said she couldn’t comment on the delay because the application is still under review.

According to Debbie Castro, West Coast campus director of the foundation, Plan B is time-sensitive.

For up to 24 hours, the pill is 95 percent effective. When taken within 72 hours, the effectiveness drops by 75 percent.

Plan B is not guaranteed to be an option on weekends because of pharmacy hours.

Sabrina Sieger, member of the U group Students for Choice, an emergency contraceptive campaign, said she was disheartened by the FDA’s decision.

“[If women] always have access [to the pill], more people would be comfortable with [taking] it,” Sieger said.

Effective birth control methods on college campuses are limited, according to the foundation.

Because many college health centers do not offer the pill or are closed on the weekends, women must go to off-campus emergency contraceptive providers within 72 hours.

A nationwide survey of emergency contraceptive access on campus health clinics, conducted by the foundation found that 61 percent provide emergency contraceptives or prescriptions and only 16 percent have weekend hours.

Planned Parenthood public affairs coordinator and Student for Choice staff coordinator Renee Lita said the more women who take action to grant access to women’s health care, the better off they’ll be.

A survey conducted by Lita and other members of the Student for Choice campaign showed results showing the number of times pharmacies will fill emergency contraceptive prescriptions.

Lita said the results were disheartening.

“We are always working with pharmacies and hospitals to form relationships,” Lita said. “It’s hard sometimes.”

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