Monday, March 23rd: A Big Day for Plan B!

Monday, March 23, 2009, was a big day for Plan B!

Judge Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of   New  York ordered  the FDA to reconsider its decision to limit the OTC sale of Plan B to 18 years of age and older. It also ordered the FDA to act within 30 days to extend over-the-counter access to anyone 17 years of age and older.

This was an amazing victory pursued by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Further, it is one that I am particularly excited by because my daughter and I were plaintiffs.

Aliza Led, I Followed
I am the president of WCLA – Choice Matters, one of the oldest pro-choice advocacy organizations in the country-but I must confess that it was Aliza who led the way.  I simply followed her.
Aliza knew about Plan B and believed strongly that it should be available to her and her friends.  She also adamantly believed that minors have a right to privacy.  When she overheard me telling my husband about possible legal action against the FDA concerning Plan B restrictions, she was determined to join the suit.  In all honesty, we were not so sure it was a good idea because we were concerned for her privacy, but she was resolute.  So, when the FDA finally decided to make Plan B over-the- counter for people 18 and older, she was ready to act!

Aliza’s Age
Aliza was one of  the  three teenagers  involved in bringing the suit.   In that Aliza was 16 when the motion was filed and turned 17 before the motion was fully briefed, she played a key role in the decision.  (The other two teenagers were both 13.)

Part of the text of the Summary Judgment stated:
“Aliza will turn 17 before this motion is fully briefed, and   thus falls into the category of women (who all scientists at FDA agreed could safely and appropriately use Plan B as an OTC drug, but are barred from doing so by the BTC regime), which imposes an age cut-off of 18.”

To read the Summary Judgment Brief: summary_judgment_brief_final
The full decision, 3/23/09: sjdecision
Press Release: CenterForReproductiveRightsPressRelease

Why Her Age Mattered
The significance of Aliza’s age was explained by Nan Strauss of the Center, in April 2007:
“Being 17, she [Aliza] cannot access EC OTC, based on the final FDA decision.  However, prior to that last decision setting the age limit at 18 (on 8/26/06), during 2005 and the beginning of 2006 Steven Galson, the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, had placed the age restriction at 17…”
“No one at FDA has indicated any problem w/ the data showing that 17 year olds can use Plan B safely and appropriately.  The only basis for the restriction on women 17-18, is that the FDA wanted to set the age limit so that it would be in accordance with already existing age limits on products like tobacco and nicotine replacement products.  So it’s helpful to have someone in that in between group, for whom the added year of the restriction (the shift from 17 to 18) is significant, and totally unrelated to health, medicine, or science.”
“Only Aliza falls into the group of women for whom everyone at FDA says can safely use the drug, but can’t have OTC access because pharmacies are already accustomed to restricting certain products to people over 18.”

Aliza’s commitment, courage and action led to results for all teens across the nation.  I am so proud of her!

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