Good news: The slow–and often infuriating–expansion of access to emergency contraception took another step forward last week when the FDA announced that generic versions of EC can now be sold over the counter to folks of all ages.
Until now, a sweetheart deal had given the pharmaceutical company that makes the brand name version, Plan B, exclusive rights to sell their product without age restrictions, while generic versions were available only to those over 17 and remained behind the pharmacy counter. Now that all products can be side-by-side on the shelf, the generic versions, which typically cost less, will hopefully drive down the price overall.
Of course, this is EC we’re talking about, so obviously some confusion must remain. For now, while young women should be able to purchase them no problem, generic versions must include a label saying they are intended for “women 17 years of age or older.” Given that the complicated battle to get EC over the counter has left the public–including, most unfortunately, many pharmacists themselves–confused about the rules, this labeling probably won’t help.
So be sure to spread the word to all your friends: To prevent pregnancy after sex, go to a drugstore (maybe call ahead to make sure they stock it), find emergency contraception, ignore the labels about age restrictions (read the other instructions), purchase your preferred brand, don’t let anyone convince you that you need to show ID or otherwise give you a hard time, do the happy dance when you get your period/a negative pregnancy test.
Repeat as needed.
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.