A new study says girls younger than age 17 can safely use emergency contraception without a prescription, and that there’s no reason they should be kept from buying the drug over the counter.
The study, published in this month’s Obstetrics & Gynecology, helped the Food and Drug Administration decide that the pill — also known as Plan B or the morning-after pill — could be purchased over the counter by women of any age. The FDA was inclined to approve, but the Health and Human Services (HHS) intervened, overruling that decision.
“There are no medical concerns. That’s why the FDA approved it for them. The concern is more a social, political concern about adolescents having access to these contraceptives,” said Cynthia Harper, one of the study’s authors and a professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at UCSF.
The study did have limitations, including self-selection, because girls who choose not to use emergency contraception may be different than those who do.
The study was funded by research grants from Teva Women’s Health Research.