Will Women Take A Morning-After Pill If It's Prescription-Only?

Now that an FDA panel has recommended the approval of a new 5-day emergency contraceptive pill, known as Ella, its full approval is likelier than ever. But will it make a difference?

Over at Slate's Double X blog, Rebecca Kaplan talks to some experts about the possible repercussions in the U.S. of Ella, a drug which originated with a French pharmaceutical company and which can prevent pregnancy up to 120 hours after sex. The conclusion? Not going to change much til it's over the counter.

James Trussell, a professor and pro-choice advocate, strongly endorses the drug but points out that now that Plan B is over the counter — with sales doubling the first year it could be acquired without a prescription — women may not even think to go to their doctor for an extended-time solution.

"Women … are not going to go to their doctor looking for emergency contraception, so how will they ever find out about it?" Trussell asked. "They'll just go to CVS and buy Plan B one-step."

According to the story, the manufacturer didn't apply for over the counter approval because its formula has yet to be introduced in the U.S. market. But then again, as was noted in yesterday's discussion about whether oral contraceptives should be over the counter, more costs costs are passed onto the consumer as insurance companies decline to cover over the counter drugs. Plan B now retails for around $50, but insurance would probably cover Ella as long as it remained prescription-only.

On the one hand, a longer time range would benefit women whose circumstances prevented them from accessing emergency contraception immediately. On the other, these women are also likely to be the same ones without ready access to a doctor. That said, expanding women's access to safe reproductive health solutions can only be a good thing.

The Big Problem With Ella [XX/Slate]

Earlier: Week-After Pill May Be On The Horizon
What If The Pill Were Over The Counter?