KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Obama Administration Changes Course On Plan B

Monday afternoon, the Justice Department announced it would accept recent court rulings and begin putting into effect a judge's order to have the Food and Drug Administration certify the Plan B pill for use without prescription and without age restrictions on sales.

The Washington Post: Obama Administration Drops Fight To Keep Age Restrictions On Plan B Sales
The Obama administration on Monday abandoned its fight to keep age restrictions on sales of a widely used morning-after contraceptive pill, a stark legal reversal that ended years of court battles but did little to extinguish political passions on both sides of the issue. … President Obama has not changed his position and still opposes over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptives for young girls, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity Monday to describe the White House’s reasoning. But the Justice Department decided to drop the case after multiple setbacks in federal courts in recent months (Dennis and Kliff, 6/10).

The New York Times: U.S. Drops Bid To Limit Sales Of Morning-After Pill
The Justice Department had been fighting to prevent that outcome, but said late Monday afternoon that it would accept its losses in recent court rulings and begin putting into effect a judge’s order to have the Food and Drug Administration certify the drug for nonprescription use. In a letter to Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the administration said it would comply with his demands (Shear and Belluck, 6/10).

Los Angeles Times: Obama Administration Reverses Course On Plan B Pill
In papers filed in federal court in New York, government attorneys announced that the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services would remove age and point of sale restrictions on the emergency contraceptive, pending approval by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman. The decision would not apply to similar brands of emergency contraceptives, or to a two-pill version of the same drug, which is manufactured by the Israel-based pharmaceutical firm Teva. Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, wrote in the court papers that other manufacturers could submit approval applications, but the FDA might grant Teva "marketing exclusivity." The limited nature of the government's proposal could be an issue for Korman, who has ordered that all such drugs be available over the counter like aspirin (Morin, 6/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Government To Comply With Morning-After Pill Ruling
The drug won't immediately be made available to all ages without a prescription. The FDA said it has asked Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the maker of Plan B One-Step, to reapply for approval of the product without any restrictions. The FDA said it would act promptly to approve any application. However, if approved the drug would need to be relabeled for sale, a process that could take several weeks. A Teva spokeswoman said in a statement, "We do not have a comment at this time" (Dooren, 6/10).

NPR: Feds Cave On Emergency Contraception Age Restrictions
The Obama administration has gone to Plan C on Plan B. Backed into a legal corner, the Justice Department said Monday it would drop its appeal of Judge Edward Korman's ruling last April that it make the morning-after birth control pill available over the counter with no age restrictions (Rovner, 6/10).

Politico: U.S. To Allow Plan B Access For All Ages
When finalized, the move would end a long-running dispute over emergency contraception dating back to the early years of George W. Bush’s presidency — a legal fight that forced the Obama administration to take a position on the availability of the controversial product in late 2011, just as the 2012 election fight was heating up — and make "Plan B" pills readily available on the shelves of drug stores nationwide (Epstein and Haberkorn, 6/10).

The Associated Press: Feds: All Girls To Have Morning-After Pill Access
Advocates for girls’ and women’s rights said the federal government’s decision to comply with the judge’s ruling could be a move forward for “reproductive justice” if the FDA acts quickly and puts emergency contraception over the counter without restriction. … But opponents of easy access to the morning-after pill, such as the anti-abortion Family Research Council, criticized the government for not sticking with its decision to appeal. "We're very concerned and disappointed at the same time because what we see here is the government caving to political pressure instead of putting first the health and safety of girls (and) parental rights," said Anna Higgins, director of the council's Center for Human Dignity (Hays, 6/10).

Reuters: Obama Administration To Drop Limits On Morning-After Pill
The Obama administration will scrap age restrictions on the sale of emergency contraception pills, making the morning-after pill available to women and girls without a prescription. The U.S. Department of Justice said in a letter on Monday that it would comply with a court's ruling to allow unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step, withdrawing its appeal on the matter (Humer and Dye, 6/11).

Fox News: Obama Administration Says It Will Allow All Girls To Have Morning-After Pill Access
The Obama administration announced Monday it will end age restrictions on emergency contraception, allowing girls and women of all ages to purchase the morning-after pill without a prescription. The Department of Justice notified U.S. District Judge Edward Korman it will submit a plan for compliance with his recent ruling that allowed unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step. If he approves it, the department will drop its appeal of his April ruling (6/11).

MedPage Today: Plan B: Obama Administration To Drop Age Limits On OTC Sales
Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards hailed the administration's change of heart. In a statement she called the decision, "a huge breakthrough for access to birth control and a historic moment for women's health and equity" (Peck, 6/10).

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