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Judge OKs plan to market over-the-counter 'morning after' pill

A package of Plan B emergency contraceptive.

A package of Plan B emergency contraceptive. Photo Credit: AP

Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Edward Korman Wednesday approved the government's plan to comply with his order to make emergency contraceptives freely available by approving over-the-counter marketing of Teva Pharmaceuticals' Plan B One-Step.

Korman's approval appeared likely to end a decade of litigation over the so-called "morning after" pill. The judge ruled in April that the drug should be available to women and girls of all ages without a prescription or proof of age, but the government had appealed that ruling.

On Monday, the government offered to drop the appeal if the judge approved a compliance plan for Teva's One-Step product that could maintain restrictions on a "two-pill" version of the drug and on cheaper generic versions of the one-pill product.

Women's health groups complained that by giving a monopoly to Teva to sell over the counter, higher costs would make the drug less affordable to poor women. Korman said he shared those concerns, but called the government plan "sufficient to comply with my order."

The morning after pill is considered effective in preventing pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after intercourse. While testing has shown that it is safe, Korman ruled that political sensitivities surrounding the issue of teen pregnancy led to improper restrictions on its sales.

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