Hat tip to EmpowHer: the FDA approved over-the counter use of a generic version of Plan B, called Next Choice, over the summer.
The FDA first approved Next Choice for prescription use in June, and in August, the drug’s manufacturer, Watson Pharmaceuticals, announced that it would be available over the counter. (You can read Next Choice’s drug facts here.)
News to me. I couldn’t find anything on Next Choice in the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washington Post, or the Boston Globe. Perhaps the media is experiencing EC fatigue after this spring’s ruckus (only the latest skirmish in a years-long fight)—or contraception advocates are keeping quiet so as not to attract the attention of the crazies.
But generic EC is an important development, as Nancy Ratzan, President of the National Council of Jewish Women reminds us (via the Feminist Majority Foundation):
"Despite recent efforts to increase access to emergency contraception, cost is still a barrier for many women…all women, regardless of age, income, religion, race or geographic location should have access to the full range of contraceptive options. The introduction of a generic for Plan B is an important step toward achieving that important goal."
EC is a vital component of reproductive health, the more pharma companies that get in on the act, the better. Our mothers probably never imagined the cornucopia of hormonal contraceptives we’d have to choose from—not only pills (over a hundred brands), but also patches and rings. Granted, the formula for EC is probably less variable than that of the daily pill. But competition is good for our health and our wallets. Next Choice is going to cost about 10 percent less than Plan B, which is a good start. And however contentious the EC debate remains, emergency contraception itself must not be ignored.