HHS Overrules FDA on Selling Morning After Pill Without a Prescription

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blocked over-the-counter access to the morning after pill for young teenagers Wednesday. (AP File Photo)

The Department of Health and Human Services overruled the Food and Drug Administration Wednesday, saying the morning-after pill may not be sold to young teenagers without a prescription.

As The Blaze previously reported, the FDA was prepared to make the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill available over the counter to women of all ages after a petition from the drug’s maker. Currently, only those age 17 or older can buy Plan B without a prescription. The new ruling would have let the emergency contraceptive be sold on drugstore shelves like condoms.

But Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled her own experts at the FDA, saying in a memo to the agency she was concerned that young girls couldn’t properly understand how to use it without guidance from an adult.  The FDA had already determined the drug should be available to women of all ages without a prescription in an earlier statement Wednesday.

“It is commonly understood that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age, which I believe are relevant to making this determination as to non-prescription availability of this product for all ages,” Sebelius wrote.

According to the drug’s manufacturer, Plan B can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex and is different from RU-486, commonly known as the abortion pill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.