The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the emergency contraception Next Choice - a generic version of Plan B - for use without a prescription. This news is according to the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Next Choice is manufactured by Watson Pharmaceuticals, and was first approved by the FDA for prescription use on June 24. It will be available over-the-counter to women 17 and older, and women under 17 will need a prescription to obtain it.
The costs of emergency contraception is an important factor in determining how accessible it is to the general population. National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) President Nancy Ratzan said the following,"Despite recent efforts to increase access to emergency contraception, cost is still a barrier for many women ... all women, regardless of age, income, religion, race or geopgraphic location should have access to the full range of contraceptive options. The introduction of a generic for Plan B is an important step toward achieving that important goal." Next Choice is about 10% less than Plan B; this is according to the Reproductive Health Technologies.
How effective is emergency contraception (EC)? According to Feminist Majority, it is effective up to five days (120 hours) after unprotected sex, failure in birth control, or rape, but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours. Therefore, over-the-counter access becomes extremely important due to the timeliness factor of EC.
This contraception does not terminate an existing pregnancy.
As Nancy Ratzan stated, it is extremely important that EC be available to women who need it. With the approval of Next Choice it looks as if there will be more access to emergency contraception. Let us hope that some pharmacists do no place barriers in the pathways of women who want to buy Next Choice. Such things of a similar nature have happened in the past.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that this information should be widely divulged.