Saturday, September 16, 2006

Plan B

Plan B is a concentrated dose of the hormone commonly found in birth control pills.

Morning After Pill Gets FDA Approval

by Lisa Kubota - lkubota@kgmb9.com

To some, it is a second chance to prevent pregnancy. To others, it is a dangerous drug that could cause an abortion. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday the Plan B morning after pill will now be sold without a prescription, but with some restrictions.

The decision will not have much of an impact here in Hawaii. In most states, the emergency contraceptive is only available by prescription. But a Hawaii law passed in 2003 already allows women and teens as young as 14 to get Plan B from certain pharmacists without a doctor's note.

Doctor Ann Rahall has helped patients at Planned Parenthood of Hawaii for a decade. "I think it's important for women to know this has occurred, and the word to get out there so they know they can have Plan B any time they need it, and from a 24-hour pharmacy," she said. "That would be the middle of the night, on a weekend, and times when doctors offices aren't open."

The decision allows over the counter sales at pharmacies and other stores with a licensed pharmacist on duty. They will check the patient's identification. Those under 18 need a doctor's prescription, but that restriction does not apply in Hawaii.
"We have a law that allows pharmacists to dispense Plan B without a prescription. So in Hawaii, teens can still access it without having to get a prescription from their doctors by going to one of the pharmacies that participates," explained Barry Raff, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Hawaii.

Plan B is a concentrated dose of the hormone commonly found in birth control pills. It is often confused with the abortion pill RU-486. Plan B delays ovulation when taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex. "If she has already ovulated, it prevents the fertilized ovum from implanting into the uterine lining," said Rahall. "If she's already pregnant, it won't disrupt it or cause an abortion."

The pro-life group Hawaii Right to Life is opposed to the emergency contraceptive.

"Life begins at conception, and when we muddy this up it's the devaluing, the dehumanizing of us as a society as a people that it very, very dangerous," said executive director John Long. "In Europe, there has been no reduction whatsoever in unintended pregnancies since it has been introduced. But what they have seen is a marked increase in STD's."

Plan B could start being sold in pharmacies nationwide by the end of the year.


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