Morning-after pill headed to shelves for younger teens

10:01 AM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
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(WXIA) -- A controversial morning-after pill will now be available to women as young as 15 without a prescription.

The new FDA decision also includes a change on where the morning-after pill will be found at pharmacies. Plan B One-Step had been locked up behind pharmacy counters. Now, it will sit on shelves where other women's health and contraceptives are displayed.

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The Food and Drug Administration announced the decision Tuesday and said it takes effect immediately.

For years, the FDA has said findings proved the pill was safe and effective and should be available without age restrictions. But in 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebulius said the pill would only be allowed without prescription to women 17 and older. It was the first time in history the FDA had been publicly overruled by a cabinet secretary.

In April, New York federal judge Edward Korman called the restrictions "arbitrary and unreasonable." In a scathing opinion, he said the Obama administration had put politics before science in restricting access to the drug.

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"Women want Secretary Sebelius and the rest of the administration to stand with the FDA. The FDA made this decision based on science. A court said this administration should let the FDA's decision stand," Judy Waxman with the National Women's Law Center said.

Groups that have been pushing for tighter restrictions and more parental control were quick to respond to the changes.

"Our concern is that this ruling really negatively affects the health and safety of young teens and circumvents the rights of parent to be involved in important health decisions concerning their daughters," Anna Higgins with the Family Research Council said. "Teens are going to be avoiding medical screenings by doctors and so these STDs that are a result of increased sexual behavior among teens are going to go unidentified and untraced."

This decision applies only to Plan B One-Step, which is a one-pill dose, not the generic two-pill versions. A spokesman for the FDA says there's not enough data to prove those two-dose versions can be used responsibly by young teens.

Plan B One-Step will have special packaging with a security tag and special product code. When scanned by the cashier, it will indicate the costumer's proof of age is required.

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