Five Common Drugs More Dangerous Than Plan B

Illustration for article titled Five Common Drugs More Dangerous Than Plan B

Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided not to allow stores to sell Plan B over the counter to kids under 17, because she wasn't convinced the FDA had conclusively proved teens could safely take it without talking to a doctor. We decided to compare it to a few other medications children can legally obtain over the counter. Below, take a look at how Plan B stacks up against some extremely common remedies.

Plan B

Possible side effects: allergic reaction; ectopic pregnancy; nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain; breast pain or tenderness; dizziness, tired feeling; changes in menstrual periods; headache
Overdose effects: nausea, vomiting
Over-the-counter? 17 and older only



Possible side effects: allergic reaction
Overdose effects: possible liver failure and death
Over-the-counter? Yes


Possible side effects: allergic reaction; upset stomach, mild heartburn, diarrhea, constipation; bloating, gas; dizziness, headache, nervousness; skin itching or rash; blurred vision; ringing in ears; chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance; black, bloody, or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; swelling or rapid weight gain; urinating less than usual or not at all; nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash; bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness; or severe headache, neck stiffness, chills, increased sensitivity to light, and/or seizure (convulsions)
Overdose effects: stomach bleeding; difficulty breathing; coma
Over-the-counter? Yes


Prilosec OTC

Possible side effects: allergic reaction; fever; cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat; stomach pain, gas; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; headache; magnesium deficiency which may cause seizures; increased risk of bone fractures
Overdose effects: drowsiness; blurred vision; fast heartbeat; nausea; vomiting; sweating; headache; dry mouth
Over-the-counter? Yes



Possible side effects: allergic reaction; impaired ability to drive or operate machinery; sleepiness, fatigue, or dizziness; headache; dry mouth; difficulty urinating or an enlarged prostate.
Overdose effects: extreme sleepiness; fever; hallucinations; seizures
Over-the-counter? Yes


Robitussin DM

Possible side effects: allergic reaction; impaired thinking and reactions; dizziness or headache; rash; nausea, vomiting, or stomach upset; when abused, can lead to hallucinations and paranoia, as well as possible irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, brain lesions, epilepsy, and permanent psychosis
Overdose effects: at least one death has been reported as a result of Robitussin overdose, but psychological ill effects, like the feeling of being trapped in a "time loop," may be more common
Over-the-counter? Yes


Just to be clear, we don't advocate requiring prescriptions for Advil, or keeping Tylenol under lock and key. The information above is merely evidence that the United States trusts consumers to educate themselves and take reasonable precautions with over-the-counter medications. The FDA's study indicated that young girls were eminently capable of doing this with Plan B — but apparently Sebelius still doesn't trust them to do so.

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Can we stop pretending Sebelius acted as a lone wolf on this one? This was an Obama administration decision. One that was made with an eye to a campaign and not to women's health.

Repeat: reelection > women's health