Christian and conservative groups are opposing a recommendation by a committee of the Food and Drug Administration to give a "morning after" pill over-the-counter status. The pill, Plan B, owned by Barr Laboratories, has been on the market as a prescription drug since 1999, and sold a paltry (by pharmaceutical industry standards) $10 million annually.
In a 23-4 vote, the panel recommended to make the pill available over the counter, which proponents and opponents say could have a cultural and social effect second only to the birth control pill. On Monday, 44 members of Congress, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, sent a letter to the FDA opposing over-the-counter status. "We urge you to reject the petition currently before you to make the morning-after pill as accessible to our nation's teenage daughters as aspirin or hairspray," the letter stated.
Barr Laboratories, now the number three U.S. producer of birth control pills, said it is only interested in "woman's health." But, CBSMarketwatch writes, "Barr's contraceptive business is coming under increasing pressure. On Wednesday, No. 1 generic drugmaker Teva and Andrx Corp. said they would team up to market birth-control pills in the United States. The news put pressure on Barr shares and led Lehman Bros. and JP Morgan to downgrade the stock." The drug maker believes that women won't buy the morning-after pill if it means talking to a pharmacist (which some states allow without a prescription) or getting a prescription from a doctor.
There is also debate over whether the drug causes an abortion. Barr says it prevents pregnancy, while Judy Brown, president of the American Life League, said, "The pill acts to prevent ...1