Science & Technology

Mixed Outcome in Latest Ruling on Plan B Contraception Access

Two-step generic pills will be available to all, but the one-step pill remains on hold for review


In a strange twist of events, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that two-pill generic versions of the morning after pill should be immediately made available over the counter, without any age restrictions; the court, though, denied unrestricted sales of the Plan B One-Step product until it determines whether the government's appeal should be upheld.

Last month, the federal government appealed a New York state judge's ruling ordering emergency contraception to be made available on drugstore shelves next to condoms and tampons and without any age restrictions.

Days before the government filed its appeal, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that it would allow the Plan B One-Step product to be sold on shelves and available to anyone age 15 and over as long as they provided proof of their age to the cashier. The agency still required generic forms of emergency contraception—in which two pills are taken 12 hours apart —to be kept behind a pharmacy counter and dispensed only when the pharmacy is open and only to those age 17 and older.