Earlier this year, we reported that the FDA had lifted the age restriction on purchasing Plan B One-Step. But last week, new information came out that could have you skipping the Plan B and looking for a Plan C.
Norlevo, an emergency contraceptive identical to Plan B One-Step that is manufactured and sold in Europe, was proven to be ineffective in women weighing 176 lbs. and over, and found to be less effective in women weighing more than 165 lbs. With the average American woman ironically weighing just a pound heavier than that (166 lbs), Plan B One-Step may begin to have some problems on their hands. Nearly six million people of all ages, races, genders, and religions in the United States buy emergency contraception each year.
So far, attempts to re-formulate the pill to work for women over the weight limit have been unsuccessful, meaning that over half of American women may need to use alternative emergency contraception. In March 2014, the FDA approved generic emergency contraception to be sold to people of all ages.
Women who weigh more than 165 lbs. will be encouraged to discuss other contraception plans with their doctor, such as a daily oral contraceptive or an IUD. But emergency contraceptives are not intended to replace other forms of contraception. It’s for if you miss a pill or if a condom breaks and you have no other forms of birth control. It’s for an emergency. IUDs are great, but they can cost upwards of $500. And what about younger folks whose parents won’t allow them other forms of contraception? We know by now that encouraging abstinence is naive. Those over the age of seventeen don’t need a prescription for regular Plan B, which has not been proven to suffer from the same decrease in effectiveness as Plan B One-Step.
The fight for access to contraceptives just took a huge hit for half of America’s women and unfortunately until an alternative is developed, tested, and approved, there isn’t much than can be done about it.
The big question now is whether or not Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, who manufacture Plan B One-Step, will put this grave warning on their box, like the manufacturers of Norlevo started doing in January 2014. For right now, all we can do is spread the word and hope it gets to the ears of those who need to hear it.