Menu

HHS Overrules FDA on Plan B

Despite scientific evidence that Plan B emergency contraception is safe for women of all ages, the department of Health and Human Services declined to approve it for over-the-counter use.

Dec 10, 2011
Tia Ghose

FLICKR, VIXYVIEW

After the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) overruled the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday regarding the approval of emergency contraceptive Plan B, many are wondering whether politics, not science, guided the decision. The department ruled to keep existing restrictions on Plan B, which currently cannot be sold without a prescription to those younger than 17, despite the FDA’s conclusion that the drug was safe and effective for fertile women of all ages and should be available over-the-counter.

As a rationale for keeping the restrictions in place, HHS head Kathleen Sebelius said that about 10 percent of women as young as 11 are physically capable of getting pregnant but may lack the cognitive and behavioral development to use Plan B properly.

But many question the scientific merits of the decision. FDA director Margaret Hamburg released a statement in response reiterating that the scientific evidence suggests Plan B is “is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential," ScienceInsider reported. The FDA Office of Women’s Health head Susan Wood previously stated that much riskier drugs, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), are routinely available over-the-counter. “One of the president’s first executive orders was that we will use science to guide decisions and not politics,” one White House official told The Washington Post.  “And I don’t understand how this can possibly square with science.”

The pill is no stranger to controversy. The FDA was accused during the Bush administration of bowing to conservative politics by resisting all over-the-counter use for the drug.

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
High-throughput spheroid microplate benefits cancer research, drug screening