A U.S. District Court judge has ordered the Food and Drug Administration to rethink its plan to limit the non-prescription "morning-after" pill to women who are at least 18 years old, the Washington Post reported Monday.
In 2005, the agency announced that it would limit over-the-counter access to the pill, also known as Plan B, to women 18 and older. U.S. District Judge Edward R. Korman said the FDA must reconsider whether to make the drug available to all women, regardless of age, without a prescription.
The "record is clear that the FDA's course of conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug from prescription to non-prescription use," the newspaper quoted from Korman's 52-page ruling.
The plan B pill is intended to prevent pregnancy up to 72 hours after a woman has unprotected sex.
Groups critical of the FDA's original decision praised the judge's ruling.
"The message is clear: The FDA has to put science first and leave politics at the door. We are encouraged that the FDA under new leadership, when they look at the evidence, will remove the unique barriers that have been in place and [Plan B] will finally be available to all women without any barriers," the Post quoted Suzanne Novak, senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, as saying.