White House to Challenge Ruling on Unlimited Access to 'Morning-After' Pill

Move follows FDA decision that only women 15 or older could get emergency contraceptive without prescription

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"It is irresponsible to advocate over-the-counter use of these high-potency drugs, which would make them available to anyone -- including those predators who exploit young girls," Shaw Crouse said.

In his ruling, Korman dismissed the federal government's earlier arguments and, in particular, previous decisions by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that required girls under 17 to get a prescription for the emergency contraceptive. Korman wrote that Sebelius' actions "with respect to Plan B One-Step ... were arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable."

In 2011, Sebelius overruled a recommendation by the FDA to make the drug available to all women without a prescription. The FDA said at the time that it had well-supported scientific evidence that Plan B One-Step was a safe and effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Sebelius, however, said she was concerned that very young girls couldn't properly understand how to use the drug without assistance from an adult.

She invoked her authority under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and directed FDA Commissioner Hamburg to issue "a complete response letter." As a result, "the supplement for nonprescription use in females under the age of 17 is not approved," Hamburg wrote at the time.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more about emergency contraception.

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