On Plan B Availability and Frank Corte of Texas


On Plan B Availability and Frank Corte of Texas

24 March 2009 at 2:55:23 PM

I read the other day that a federal judge has ordered that 17 year olds must have access to the morning after pill, which is an over the counter drug, and that the FDA had overstepped its bounds when it limited access to what is NOT a prescription drug but an over the counter drug to only women over 18. From Center for Reproductive Rights, which also has a link to the PDF.

The Court found that the FDA "acted in bad faith and in response to political pressure," "departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures," and engaged in "repeated and unreasonable delays." In addition, the court found that the FDA's justification for denying over-the-counter access to 17 year olds "lacks all credibility," and was based on "fanciful and wholly unsubstantiated ‘enforcement' concerns."

The Plan B pill was put behind the counter where you had to ask for it. Even though it's an over the counter drug that requires NO prescription. How exactly did that happen? The Intersection blog reminds.

In the case of Plan B, the bogus claims revolved around an alleged lack of data on how adolescent girls would use the drug; and they were centrally voiced by one W. David Hager, a Christian right gynecologist and the author of As Jesus Cares for Women who had been placed on the FDA’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee. The politicized Bush FDA was busy creating unique regulatory and scientific hurdles to prevent the approval of Plan B for over-the-counter availability, and Hager helped provide the “scientific” basis. Granted, he didn’t convince his scientific peers on the advisory committee that his worries had merit, but in Bush’s FDA, he didn’t have to. The ultimate Plan B decision was highly irregular in numerous respects, not least them being that an FDA official, Stephen Galson, overruled the nearly unanimous scientific advisory committee as well as his expert staff in rejecting the Plan B over-the-counter application. Instead, the FDA essentially went with Hager’s minority view.

The FDA has 30 days to comply with the court's ruling.

Now let's consider an ill advised related bill from Frank Corte. From the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

The other measure filed by Republican Rep. Frank Corte of San Antonio would require pharmacists to tell women exactly how emergency contraception can block an egg that may already be fertilized.

"If you happen to be one of those who believe life starts at that point, then it matters to you how emergency contraception operates," said Kathi Seay, Corte's policy adviser. "I think that when people talk about emergency contraception, that aspect of it is generally not explained."

The bill would also require pharmacies dispensing the pill to post an 18-by-24 inch sign in English and Spanish at the cash register telling would-be customers that if they believe life begins at fertilization, emergency contraception may prevent their pregnancy.

Opponents say that is an invasion of privacy that might shame women seeking the morning-after pill.

Sarah Cleveland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice of Texas, says women who seek emergency contraception are acting responsibly to prevent an abortion later on and the proposed legislation is unnecessary.

"It's unnecessary, and it's humiliating to require a woman to be lectured by her pharmacist," Cleveland said.

Okay. So we have a drug that is sold OVER THE COUNTER, without a prescription (or will be again, now that the Bush administration's influence is out of it). And Mr Corte would want to have signs about the medication's use prominently by the counter and force women who want to use it to have the pharmacist talk to them first (not their doctor, mind you... the pharmacist. Of course, that's only really practical if the medication is behind the counter and one has to ask for it, which isn't going to happen any more.

But more than that, how obnoxious is it that one would have to be lectured or have advisories about ANY medication. Forget for a minute whether this is Plan B meds or not. Corte's admin says that people may not know what happens when they take the drug. Isn't that the case with a LOT of drugs? Maybe even most of them. Otherwise, why do we see so many commercials on television with vague references and gloom and doom telling us to ASK OUR DOCTORS about the pills Big Pharm is hawking. If you want to take a pill and you can't A. Google it on the internet B. be responsible enough to ask a doctor about it C. read the package information which I'm betting has some very clear wording about what it is, then yeah, you're ignorant. Should you have to have a pharmacist tell you what that pill is, on EVERY SINGLE PILL? Why single out ONE pill just because the proponent of the bill has a religious agenda?

I got a prescription for something one time, can't remember what, and the pharmacist came over to ask me if I had any questions about it. I found that QUITE intrusive. I don't WANT the pharmacist to answer questions about the drugs unless I ask, he or she is there to accurately know how to fill prescriptions, and be there IF I ask a question.

And I feel the same way about mandatory signs by the cash register. If there's going to be a warning sign about one drug, then there ought to be about ALL drugs. Or, better, just put a Physician's Desk Reference there so that people can go look up the drug for themselves and ASK if they have questions.

But don't go singling out reproductive women for your agenda.

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