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Experts weigh in on changes to 'Plan B' contraceptive regulation

By Megan Brantley, mbrantley@wcyb.com
Published On: May 02 2013 05:04:30 PM CDT
Updated On: May 02 2013 06:00:00 PM CDT

A local pharmacist weighs in on a controversial medication after a new ruling went into effect this week.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. -

A local pharmacist weighed in on a controversial medication after a new ruling went into effect this week.

Because of the ruling, the FDA announced on Tuesday that teens as young as 15 would be able to buy "Plan B One Step" without a prescription.

Not only that, but the emergency contraceptive will be taken from behind the counter and placed on the shelves near other contraceptives.

Dr. Stephen May with the Sullivan County Health Department tells News 5 the drug is safe and uses some of the same hormones as regular birth control, but should be used sparingly. "Plan B, it is just that. It is a plan B when you have a potential accident or failing of your contraceptive," said Dr. May.

Kingsport pharmacist Barry Walton tells us the pill is used to disrupt ovulation or keep the egg from implanting into the uterine wall. "Without the nourishment of the uterine wall, the egg cannot develop," explained Walton.

However, Dr. May tells us the time is ticking when taking the emergency contraceptive. "It's effective anywhere from up to 72 hours to up to five days, depending on some of the literature based on exposure," said Dr. May.

Walton says the new law will make it easier for women 15 and older to get the pill by not having to have a prescription, saving them precious time. "It's often hard to get a doctor's appointment very quickly, so that is an issue," he said.

Walton stresses that Plan B is not an 'abortion pill,' but rather a stronger contraceptive. "If you're already pregnant, have an existing pregnancy and you were to take this, it would have no effect on the fetus," said Walton.   

Walton tells News 5 his only real concern about lowering the age to 15 concerns IDs and whether or not a 15-year-old can prove it without a driver’s permit.

The FDA ruling applies only to the Plan B One-Step and does not affect restrictions on the traditional "Plan B," which requires two doses.