FDA backs new emergency contraceptive

June 17, 2010 7:39:21 PM PDT
A Food and Drug Administration panel gave the go-ahead today for an emergency contraceptive pill. But abortion opponents have concerns about this drug known as ellaOne and how it works.

Women in the U.S. will soon have two emergency contraceptive pills -- the already existing Plan B and now ellaOne.

"Both of them prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation. No ovulation no pregnancy," Director of Contraceptive Health at Stanford Dr. Paul Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal says ellaOne is different than Plan B in that it can be used up to five days after unprotected sex, while Plan B must be used within 72 hours.

"In a situation where you have unprotected intercourse on the Friday night of a holiday weekend, this would give you a little extra comfort zone to get to a pharmacy to get this medication," Blumenthal said.

The pill will only be sold with a prescription, but ellaOne is controversial.

Ray Dennehy teaches medical ethics at USF. He believes like many contraceptives, the new pill will encourage women to have more sex and by doing so he worries women will expose themselves to more sexually transmitted diseases.

"It was responsible for a lot of the change in attitude toward sex. Two years ago, the Centers for Disease Control released a study which begins with the quote 'at least one out for four teenage girls in America has an STD,'" he said.

Last week an FDA panel reported the new pill was safe with no harmful side effects. Today it is sold in 22 countries in Europe.


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