There are no studies confirming the safety of the MAP on younger minors or women over the age of 40, and medical experts agree that repeated use of the pill to prevent or end pregnancy involves serious health risks to women. Some females come to rely upon the MAP on a regular basis, with every case being an “emergency.” Keeping MAP available by prescription only will allow doctors and pharmacists to review how often a girl or woman is using it and impress upon her the importance of avoiding repeated use. Barr Laboratories, which markets EC under the name Plan B, conducted a label study to determine how well women understand the instructions on the drug label (essential for a drug to receive over-the counter status). They found that a full one-third of those surveyed did not understand that it is not to be used as a regular form of birth control. The number increased among younger women and those with low literacy, including Spanish-speakers (and other non-English speakers), the illiterate, and medically illiterate.
Making Plan B available without a prescription also raises parental-rights issues. Even if EC were only available to those over the age of 16, our experience with cigarettes and alcohol proves that young girls with older friends and boyfriends will still have access to Plan B without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
Seven states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, and Washington) currently allow nonprescription EC sales, and Barr Laboratories says it is planning to urge other states to allow the sales. New York and Massachusetts have vetoed over-the-counter legislations for health reasons, and many medical professionals, including a large number of pharmacists, refuse to fill prescriptions for Plan B citing that it violates their moral beliefs.
Planned Parenthood plans to file a lawsuit against the FDA if the over-thecounter sales of Plan B are not approved because, according to court documents, the organization stands to make a considerable profit ($100 million or more) from those sales. During an unrelated California court case, a former Planned Parenthood employee made public many documents that outline a deal that Planned Parenthood made with Barr Laboratories to buy Plan B kits for $4.25 and sell, on average, for $25. The original deal was made in 1999 and by 2003 Planned Parenthood was selling more than three quarters of a million kits a year.