Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plan B to be available in the US without a prescription

As similar as Canada and the United States are, there are also many differences. One is that Plan B, the so-called morning after pill, has been available in Canada without a prescription for a while now.

Two provinces (British Columbia and Saskatchewan) keep the product behind the counter, in Quebec, you need a pharmacist to prescribe it, and in the other provinces and territories (Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon) allow it to be sold off the shelves.

Now, a federal court in the United States has decreed that the FDA must allow the manufacturer of Plan B to apply for marketing without a prescription. Since the FDA didn't appeal the decision, the FDA has announced that they're waiting for the application to be made.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? I have mixed feelings about this. After all, Plan B is a powerful medication. It can prevent the egg (temporarily) from being released by the ovary, prevent fertilization, or it can prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted into the uterus.

The manufacturer says there's no reason that you can't use it more than once (for different cycles) but it shouldn't  be used as a regular form of contraception. But, is it safe for women who may not take into consideration other health issues to take a medication like this without medical supervision?

Birth control pills are prescribed by doctors, so I'm not sure that Plan B shouldn't either. Maybe it's not so bad if a pharmacist speaks with the woman first to ensure she's not taking other meds or experiencing other health issues, but to buy them off the shelf - that makes me uncomfortable.