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News of the Day ... In Perspective

11/7/2007

Plan B sales soar

Since 2002, purchases of the “morning-after” pill for emergency contraception have soared 1,200 percent. Barr Pharmaceuticals estimates that sales in 2007 will reach $80 million, doubled since 2006. In November, Barr began distributing the over-the-counter version approved for purchase by persons over the age of 18.

Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and their allies complain that women still encounter pharmacies that refuse to stock Plan B, and individual pharmacists who for reasons of conscience refuse to sell it (Associated Press 8/23/07).

Wendy Moore, president of Concerned Women for America, says that the high use of the drug may result from minors getting friends and family to buy the drug for them, and from repeated usage. “The FDA has not found that the morning-after pill can be used safely multiple times or by a minor without a doctor’s oversight,” she said.

Cecile Richardson, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told AP that Plan B will lead to a drop in unintended pregnancies. However, Dr. Joseph P. Stanford, associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine, said that studies from the U.S., China, and Europe show that Plan B does not decrease abortions. Figures from Scotland show that abortions increased from 12,603 in 2005 to 13,081 in 2006, after the pill was made available over the counter.

Stanford says he and fellow researchers did a meta-analysis showing that Plan B is effective only 72 percent of the time, not 89 percent as claimed by Barr.

Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Dakota have laws specifically allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs like the morning-after pill, and other states may consider similar conscience clauses next year (LifeNews.com 8/22/07).

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