By Louise Slaughter
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
The FDA's rejection of the emergency contraception known as Plan B was a display of inappropriate political tampering with a science-based decision-making process. That is why one congresswoman is calling for FDA resignations.
(WOMENSENEWS)--In yet another example of the Bush administration playing politics with health care, the U.S Food and Drug Administration last month rejected an application by Barr Laboratories to allow its emergency contraceptive, Plan B, to be sold over the counter without a prescription.
Allowing women greater access to emergencycontraception could cut the unintended pregnancyrate in half and drastically reduce the numberof abortions performed in this nation. These sound like goals that everyone can agree on, Democrat and Republican alike. Yet the FDA caved to right-wing ideologues and denied women over the counter access to emergency contraception.
The FDA's own scientific advisory panels and staff had overwhelmingly recommended that this drug be made available to American women over-the-counter. They had determined that the scientific facts irrefutably show that this drug is a safe, effective way for women to prevent unintended pregnancy. But the FDA went ahead and blocked over the counter sales, claiming that there was not enough information about its safety for young women.
There have been serious allegations that what should have been a science-based decision was influenced by inappropriate political considerations. Two of the members of one of the advisory committees who considered this application, Dr. Michael F. Greene and Dr. Alastair Wood, published an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine in April in response to the FDA's announcement that it was delaying its decision on whether to make Plan B available over-the-counter. In that commentary, these distinguished scientists said the FDA's move "suggests that the FDA's decision-making