August 24, 2006

FDA OKs Wider Access for Plan B Pill

WASHINGTON -- Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. won U.S. approval to sell its Plan B "morning-after" contraceptive without a prescription to women 18 and older, the company said on Thursday.

Younger girls still need a prescription for Plan B, Barr said in a statement. The Plan B pills may prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.

The Food and Drug Administration approval follows more than three years of controversy. Backers and opponents of wider access had fiercely lobbied the agency, and the feud stalled the nominations of two FDA commissioners.

Plan B will be kept behind pharmacy counters, Barr said. The pills should be available in a dual nonprescription and prescription package by the end of the year.

"While we still feel that Plan B should be available to a broader age group without a prescription, we are pleased that the agency has determined that Plan B is safe and effective for use by those 18 years of age and older as an over-the-counter product," Barr Chief Executive Bruce Downey said in a statement.