Friday, May 1, 2009

FDA Approval of Plan B for 17 year olds

For the past two years, Plan B or the Morning After Pill, has been approved as an over the counter medication for use by women and can be purchased over the counter by men or women over age 18 with ID. For young women under 18, a prescription is necessary in addition. There has never been any scientific doubt as to the safety and efficacy of the medication for women under age 18. The current policy was agreed upon by the Bush administration as a sort of compromise between the medical and the conservative communities.

However, now it appears the FDA is set to extend approval of its sale over the counter to women (and men) 17 and over. What difference does a year make? Let’s look at the CDC data from the 2003 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (an enormous study that polled almost 200 high schools across the country. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, there are approximately 12 million teens who are sexually active between the ages of 17 and 18. If we consider that only about half of all episodes of intercourse in this age group are protected by a condom we can see that there are literally millions of moments when a morning after pill could be a wise choice.

Of course, better to use a condom each and every time since nothing protects better against STDs.

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