WASHINGTON (May 7, 2004) -- Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) denied the request of Barr Laboratories, a for-profit drug distributor, to sell its "morning-after pill" Plan B without a prescription. The FDA left the door open for Barr to submit its petition again after more research is done on the drug's effect on teenage girls.
"We are pleased that the voice of reason prevailed," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., Director of Planning and Information for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "A drug which can destroy human embryos and increases health risks to women and girls does not belong on the drugstore shelf."
Plan B is essentially an "overdose" of birth-control pills, which do require a prescription. It is marketed and advertised as a "contraceptive" but its own proponents admit that it works before and after conception.
"The Plan B distributor may argue that it's all the same, but preventing human life from beginning is not the same thing as destroying life that has already begun," said Ruse. "Women deserve to know the truth about drugs that are marketed to them, and teenage girls should not be sold potentially dangerous, abortifacient drugs off the shelf."
This type of morning-after pill has been associated with a heightened risk of ectopic pregnancy, a potentially fatal condition. Medical authorities in the United Kingdom and New Zealand have issued warnings about the drug's dangers.
The common side-effects of the morning-after pill -- nausea and abdominal pain -- are also symptoms of ectopic pregnancy," Ruse explained. "A switch to over-the-counter Plan B would leave countless women vulnerable to a 'hidden' but potentially fatal complication, with no medical supervision."
"It would be senseless to place a potentially dangerous 'overdose' of a prescription drug on the shelf next to the bandaids," she said.
"For Barr Laboratories, 'over-the-counter' spells profits," said Ruse. "But putting Plan B on the drugstore shelf -- with its serious health risks both for women and girls and for developing embryos -- would spell disaster."
The USCCB comments to the FDA against the proposal may be read in their entirety at http://www.usccb.org/ogc/ec-fda.shtml.