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Doctors groups blast decision on Plan B contraception

December 07, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • The federal government ruled that Plan B contraceptive should not be available to teens under age 17 without a prescription
The federal government ruled that Plan B contraceptive should not be available… (HO /AFP /Getty Images )

Several major medical groups reacted swiftly Wednesday to denounce the federal government's decision to limit over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptives for younger teens.

Teva, the manufacturer of the oral contraceptive that can be taken up to 72 hours after sex to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, requested approval from the FDA in February to make the drug available without a prescription to individuals age 16 and younger as it currently is for girls 17 and older.

FDA supported the plan but Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, turned down the request in a ruling Wednesday.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine and American Society for Reproductive Medicine said Sebelius made the wrong call.

“As advocates for the health and well-being of all young people, the AAP recommends that adolescents postpone sexual activity until they are fully ready for the emotional, physical and financial consequences of sex,” said Dr. Robert Block, AAP president. “However, as physicians who care for our nation’s children, it is our responsibility to protect the health of our teenage patients, and an unintended pregnancy can have significant implications for adolescents’ physical and emotional health.”

Added Dr. Leslie Walker, president of SAHM: “Today’s decision by the Department of Health and Human Services is a profound disappointment for the health of adolescent girls and is inconsistent with what we know about the safety and benefits of emergency contraception. Emergency contraception is a safe, effective back-up birth control method for teens and women of all ages to prevent unintended pregnancy.”

Officials for ACOG said they will continue to push for removing "unnecessary age restrictions."

The ASRM issued a statement from Dolores J. Lamb, the organization's president, that said in part: "We are very disappointed that Secretary Sebelius opted to insert herself into what should be a scientific decision made by the experts at FDA. The data are clear that emergency contraception can be safely used by adolescent women without requiring a prescription. Sadly, it appears that once again our leaders are putting political expediency ahead of reproductive health."

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