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Teva's 'Plan B' morning-after pill might get greater availability

Backed by a court decision, Teva wants the FDA to approve its Plan B morning-after contraceptive pill to be available over the counter to all women. As of now, girls under age 17 need a prescription.

The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering whether it's OK for young teenagers to buy emergency contraception without a prescription.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, which has operations in North Wales, is expecting a decision Wednesday regarding whether Teva's Plan B morning after pill will be available in a truly over-the-counter format.

The AP report also says the pill can prevent pregnancy if taken soon after unprotected sex. Currently, women 17 and older can buy it without a prescription if they show a pharmacist proof of age. Younger teens need a prescription. Doctors' and women's health groups have long argued that the pill is safe even for younger teens and that lifting the age restriction would increase access for everyone.

Bloomberg noted that women's health groups have favored the move, which is being considered following a 2009 court case won by Teva, but conservative groups opposed the potential change because allowing younger girls unrestricted access means they may not get needed counseling or testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

"This means that all women will have timely access to this safe backup method of contraception if they need it," said Amy Allina, a program director at the National Women's Health Network in Washington, told Bloomberg. "We are extremely optimistic."

Donna Harrison of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, based in Holland, Michigan, said that along with concerns about testing and counseling, U.S. officials should consider that predatory males may force minors to use the product.

"This is not a health product," Harrison said, according to Bloomberg. "We are isolating the women who need to see doctors most."