Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Birth Control `Secret' Revealed `Morning-After' Doses Made Public by FDA

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Birth Control `Secret' Revealed `Morning-After' Doses Made Public by FDA

Article excerpt

American women who are raped, whose birth control device fails or who just forget to use birth control in the heat of the moment can use high doses of ordinary birth control pills to prevent pregnancy, the government said Monday.

The Food and Drug Administration said six brands of birth control were safe and effective "morning-after pills," the first federal acknowledgment of the emergency contraception that European women have been prescribed for years.

"The best-kept contraceptive secret is no longer a secret," said Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler. "Women should have the information that this regimen is available." The decision opens the door for companies to specially package birth control pills for women to have on hand in case of an emergency, just as the pills are routinely sold overseas. Contraceptive manufacturers in the United States so far have refused to sell what the government terms emergency contraception. The companies cite litigation and political fears. So while it has been legal for doctors to prescribe emergency birth control - and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in December endorsed it - few physicians know the proper doses and few women even know to seek it. The food and drug agency's decision could change that. One small company, New Jersey-based Gynetics, is developing a specially packaged version of birth control that it hopes to sell for emergency use next year. And the agency's instructions were purposefully detailed enough to tell family-planning clinics and private doctors the right dose. The agency announced Monday that high doses of six popular birth-control brands, when taken within three days of unprotected sex, are 75 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. For every 100 women who have unprotected sex during the second or third week of their menstrual cycle, eight would normally become pregnant - but only two would if the women took emergency contraception, explained Dr. …

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