Easy Teen Access to Plan-B Pills Could Boost Teva and Watson Sales
In the latest bid by physicians to influence the use and availability of birth control pills, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released a position statement calling for physicians to prescribe the pills and other contraceptive devices in advance so that unwanted pregnancies can be thwarted.
This is the second time in as many weeks that a professional medical society has issued a pronouncement about birth control pills. Last week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists called for the pills to be sold over the counter and issued a policy paper with a various data to back up its opinion (see Pharma news).
The pills are available only to those younger than 17 years old with a prescription, but the AAP believes “adolescents are more likely to use emergency contraception if it has been prescribed in advance of need” and notes that the US continues to have “teen birth rates that are significantly higher than other industrialized nations.”
The most common form of emergency contraception are birth control pills: the Plan B and Plan B One-Step, which are sold by Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA) and Next Choice, which is sold by Watson Pharmaceuticals (WPI). The pills generally sell for between $10 and $80. They are most effective during the first 24 hours after unprotected sex.
The debate over birth control pills for adolescents, you may recall, has been highly charged. In 2005, the FDA declined to approve over-the-counter sales of the Plan B morning after pill. Late last year, US Department of Health & Human Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took the unprecedented step of overruling the FDA and thwarted a move to ease access to the pill, prompting criticism that the White House politicized the agency (see Pharma news, Pharma news, Pharma news).
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Ed Silverman is the editor of Pharmalot and a contributor to YCharts, which includes the just-released YCharts Pro Platinum for professional investors.