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Feds fight morning-after pill age judgment in NY

Saturday, May 25, 2013 - Updated: 3:09 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Department of Justice lawyers filed court papers Friday again asking a federal appeals court to delay lifting age restrictions and prescription requirements on an emergency contraceptive popularly known as the morning-after pill.

The papers seek to delay implementation of a judge's April 5 ruling lifting restrictions on the drugs, including the medications sold under the brand name Plan B, setting the stage for another court showdown between President Barack Obama's administration and women's health activists over access to the contraceptive.

Currently, only people age 17 or older can buy the contraceptive without a prescription, although the Food and Drug Administration announced in late April that it would begin allowing one newer version of the drug, Plan B One-Step, to be sold over the counter to people as young as 15 as long as they present photo ID.

That accommodation only further agitated U.S. District Court Judge Edward Korman, who in his opinion on April 5 said that U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius had wrongly let politics trump science when she overruled an FDA decision in 2011 that emergency contraception based on the hormone levonorgestrel could be sold safely to people of all ages without a prescription.

In a follow-up ruling, the judge said that the contraceptive "would be among the safest drugs available to children and adults on any drugstore shelf." He called the FDA's deal to allow some over-the-counter sales of Plan B One-Step a "sweetheart agreement" for the medication's manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals.

He noted that it would continue to restrict access to cheaper brands of the drug and be a hardship to the many young people who don't have driver's licenses.

     

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