Emergency contraception available over-the-counter for all ages

On April 5th, 2013 a federal district judge ruled that levonorgestrel emergency contraception must be available without a prescription for women of all ages within the next 30 days. Until pharmacies implement this change, women aged 16 and younger will still need a prescription to buy levonorgestrel emergency contraception.

It has been over a year since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) blocked a Food and Drug Administration decision to make Plan B One Step emergency contraception available without prescription for all ages. Today’s court ruling cited this HHS action as “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified, and contrary to agency precedent.”

Research conducted by UCSF Bixby Center members provided evidence for the FDA that women aged 12-17 are able to safely and correctly use levonorgestrel emergency contraception by following instructions on the package and showed that HHS’s cited concerns about a lack of evidence for safe EC use by girls under age 12 was not prompted by scientific concerns.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, April 30, the U.S. FDA announced that it has approved the availability of Plan B One-Step for women aged 15 and older without a prescription.