Plan B availability not immediate

by Mike Enright

A pill that prevents pregnancy will become more widely available after a recent Food and Drug Administration ruling.

The FDA’s Aug. 24 decision approved Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, for use without a prescription by women older than 18. Women younger than 18 will still need a prescription to get the pill.

But the change will not take effect for several months. In the immediate future, everyone who uses Plan B still will be required to get a prescription.

Stephen Cain, a pharmacy supervisor at Boynton Health Service, said that until the over-the-counter packaging is available, Boynton cannot dispense Plan B except by prescription.

According to the Web site of Barr Pharmaceuticals, which makes Plan B, the company expects the drug’s new over-the-counter packaging to be ready by the end of the year.

When the new packaging debuts, the price for the drug might increase because Barr will have additional monitoring costs to ensure proper distribution, Cain said.

Currently, Boynton charges $20 for Plan B and will try to keep the price as low as possible after the change, he said.

Boynton Director Edward Ehlinger said he is pleased with the FDA approval of over-the-counter Plan B. He said the decision was “long overdue.”

“It is a safe drug, an effective drug,” he said.

Plan B contains the synthetic hormone Levonorgestrel, the same hormone used in birth control pills, but with a higher dose per pill, according to the FDA.

The pill prevents pregnancy by stopping ovulation, fertilization or implantation of an egg when taken within 72 hours after having sex, according to the FDA. Should Plan B come into contact with an already implanted egg, nothing would happen and the pregnancy would continue.

Caitlin Laflash, co-president of the University Pro-Choice Coalition, said Plan B’s approval will be a positive thing for students.

“Contraceptives are the most effective way to reduce abortions, and reduce unwanted and unintended pregnancies,” Laflash said. “Having Plan B more readily available to women helps them maintain their reproductive rights, and the right to choose if they want to have a pregnancy or not.”

But not everyone on campus believes making Plan B easier to get is a good thing.

“It’s stupid that it’s out there over-the-counter,” said second-year nursing student Nicole Fourre.

Fourre said that while the pill is a better option than getting an abortion, she is concerned that making it more immediately available will cause more people to use it as their only form of birth control.

Valerie Johnson, adviser for Choices, a Christian student group that offers women’s ministry and a pregnancy counseling center, said the group opposes the use of Plan B for the

same reasons it is against abortion.

“We feel that as soon as an egg is fertilized, that’s a baby,” Johnson said. “Even preventing implantation of an egg, we feel, is abortion.”

Both Laflash and Johnson said they thought FDA approval of Plan B probably wouldn’t change much in terms of behavior of students. Each said students who choose to have sex would probably do so whether or not Plan B is available over the counter.