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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Morning-after pill over counter

    Rebecca Moreno, chief pharmacist at Campus Health Service, prepares for the switch of Plan B from prescription availability to over-the-counter sales. The FDA approved the new rules for the morning-after pill yesterday.
    Rebecca Moreno, chief pharmacist at Campus Health Service, prepares for the switch of Plan B from prescription availability to over-the-counter sales. The FDA approved the new rules for the morning-after pill yesterday.

    Plan B, an emergency contraceptive, was approved as an over-the-counter drug by the Food and Drug Administration yesterday, which health officials hope will decrease unwanted pregnancies.

    Sarah Jones, vice president of medical services for Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona, called the decision a “”victory for women’s health.””

    “”It’s always a good thing when women can make their own health care decisions,”” Jones said.

    Jones said Planned Parenthood gives out 7,000 of the emergency contraceptive – also known as the morning-after pill – per year, and a significant number of patients are UA students.

    The decision will significantly improve the efficiency of the Women’s Health Clinic at Campus Health Service, said Rebecca Moreno, chief pharmacist for the Campus Health.

    Now that females wont have to schedule appointments simply for Plan-B prescriptions, it will free up more time for other patients, Moreno said.

    “”I’ve been waiting for this a long time. This decision will give women more freedom and peace of mind,”” Moreno said. “”I’m hoping that college pregnancies will cut in half.””

    The drug won’t be ready to distribute over the counter for a few months, but the approval will inevitably cause controversy, Moreno said.

    Brittney Grainger, a business management junior, said she agreed with the FDA’s decision.

    “”The pill is more accessible now, and I think that’s great because we might as well help out those that are having sex anyways,”” Grainger said.

    Lauren Johnson, an accounting junior, said she thinks the decision may encourage students to have sex if the emergency contraceptive is easily accessible.

    “”At least it will make them more responsible,”” said Johnson.

    Other students said they disagreed with the FDA’s decision.

    Jay Alexander, a senior majoring in materials science and engineering, said moral issues aside, the root of the problem is there are serious concerns about safety in distributing Plan B over the counter.

    “”Society’s trying to separate sex from reproduction, and that is a problem,”” Alexander said.

    Moreno said getting the drug approved for over-the-counter sale has been an ongoing controversy for several years, but she thinks students are unaware of how the drug really works.

    This emergency contraceptive is not effective if the woman is already pregnant because it prevents ovulation or fertilization. Plan B may also inhibit implantation, but is not effective once the process of implantation has begun, according to Duramed Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Plan B.

    “”In other words, Plan B prevents pregnancy, it does not alter pregnancy,”” Moreno said. “”If you are pregnant, it will not have an effect. This is not a means of abortion.””

    Often women mistake Plan B as a reliable primary contraceptive, but Moreno said that even if the pill is taken within 24 hours of intercourse, Plan B proves only 89 percent effective.

    Moreno said she hopes that people remember that this drug should never be used as a sole means of birth control.

    Alyssa Caraway, co-director of the Women’s Resource Center, said she hopes to spread the word about Plan B.

    Moreno said that Duramed Pharmaceuticals still needs FDA approval of the drugs marketing and labeling before it can be freely available for the public and this process often takes time.

    Plan B currently costs around $25, and Moreno said she hopes that the price either lowers or remains unchanged.

    Jones said almost all insurance companies cover the cost of the drug.

    Although clearly defined regulations of Plan B’s future distribution have yet to be formally announced, Moreno said women who want the drug will most likely have to show a photo ID to verify that they are at least 18 years old.

    Strict documentation standards will probably be placed on pharmacies to record an individual’s purchase and use of Plan B, Moreno said.

    “”This is not a drug you can pick up at the gas station. You must go to a pharmacy,”” Moreno said.

    Planned Parenthood of Southern Arizona intends to have it readily available at all times, Jones said.

    “”There are hundreds of thousands of unintended pregnancies in America,”” Jones said. “”We are thrilled about the decision today, it’s long overdue.””

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