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November 15, 2005

A Hot Weekend Supplement?

I realize we Blue Staters are renowned for our decadent lifestyles, but I was nevertheless rather amused that the Tribune's online editors filed today's AP article on the investigation into the FDA's rejection of over-the-counter emergency contraception sales under "Leisure" of all things.

Does this signal a new direction for James Warren's Features page?

I, for one, can't wait for the Metromix year-end reviews of what's hot in 2005 IUDs, or the upcoming Q spotlight on the latest trends in celebrity tubal ligation.

In all seriousness, though, and on to the article itself, it's just about time we put an end to this ideological, anti-science bullshit from the Religious Right:

WASHINGTON—Lawmakers are again accusing the Food and Drug Administration of putting politics over science in the long-running saga over whether the morning-after pill should sell without a prescription.
A congressional audit released Monday cited "unusual" steps in the FDA's initial rejection of over-the-counter emergency contraception, including conflicting accounts of whether top officials made the decision even before scientists finished reviewing the evidence.
The FDA is reconsidering the decision on the pill, sold under the brand Plan B. While the report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, doesn't say that FDA made the wrong decision, it does raise the most serious questions to date about agency credibility—and increases pressure to settle the issue.
"Regardless of how you feel about whether Plan B should be available in the community, the fact is the FDA decision should be based on science, not cultural controversy," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.
A high dose of regular birth control, the morning-after pill can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The sooner it's taken, the better it works, but it can be difficult for women to get a prescription in time.
In December 2003, FDA's scientific advisers overwhelmingly backed over-the-counter sales of the Plan B brand for all ages. They cited assessments that easier access could halve the nation's 3 million annual unintended pregnancies.
Conservatives who consider the pill tantamount to abortion intensely lobbied the Bush administration to reject nonprescription sales, saying it would increase teen sex.
In May 2004, FDA leaders rejected the nonprescription switch, saying there was no data proving anyone under 16 could safely use the pills without a doctor's guidance.
Maker Barr Laboratories reapplied, seeking to sell Plan B with age limits similar to those required for cigarettes: Females 16 or older could buy it without a prescription but younger teens would continue to need a doctor's note. In August, FDA leaders postponed a decision indefinitely, saying it wasn't clear how to enforce an age limit.
The result was unprecedented public discord from the normally secretive agency: Top-ranking FDA officials have acknowledged they overruled their own scientists' decision that nonprescription sales would be safe, and the women's health chief resigned in protest.

This guy is right. There are bigger fish to fry than Target when it comes to the availability of Plan B.

It's just another front in that Republican War on Science we've all come to love.

"A Hot Weekend Supplement?"
Posted by Dan at 05:11 PM


Referenced in this post:

Americablog: Target digs itself a deeper hole in emergency contraceptive scandal
Chicago Tribune news: Leisure
Chicago Tribune news: Q
Chicago Tribune: Audit Faults FDA on Morning-After Pill—Lauran Neergaard (AP)
Chicago Tribune: Metromix
Feminist Women's Health Center: Tubal Ligation
Mother Jones: The Republican War on Science—Erik Kancler with Chris Mooney
Norwegianity: Still bunched
Norwegianity: What's next? Sit ins?
Wikipedia: Intrauterine Device