(Originally Posted at Empowher)
We can finally look forward to a generic brand of emergency contraception. The FDA has approved Watson Laboratories on its over-the-counter levonorgestrel tablets for women over 17. The pill, called Next Choice, is the generic version of Plan B, currently the only emergency contraceptive pill available for women.
Plan B hasn’t always been accessible in the past. First off, it’s expensive. Retailers may increase the price of Plan B from its wholesale price of $27.95 to upwards of $40 (PDF). Given that many women who have unprotected sex are young women, this can be a lot of money. Emergency contraception also becomes cost-prohibitive for women of color who are disproportionately from low-income communities. You must also take the first of the two pills within 72 hours of unprotected sex for it to be at all effective.
The introduction of a generic pill will hopefully make emergency contraception more accessible and available to women who need it. It’s important in the process of reducing unwanted pregnancies and in the larger fight for reproductive justice. Still, the new pill will only be about 10% cheaper than Plan B. Every bit helps, I suppose.
The current version of Plan B, where two pills are taken, is being replaced in pharmacies with Plan B One Step. No longer does one need to take one pill then take the other 12 hours later – women simply take the one pill within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
Another notable point about the generic alternative is that unlike Plan B, which is available to 17 year olds without a prescription, Next Choice is only available over-the-counter to adults. Hopefully this will be a component that changes, since it seems to be limiting options for teenagers who may find themselves in need of emergency contraception.
Of course, it’s important to remember that regular contraceptive methods are necessary in ensuring safe sexual health for straight women. Don’t forget – it’s called emergency contraception for a reason! Things happen and there’s sometimes a need for an emergency pill to prevent an unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex. But remember to consider other methods of contraception: condoms, oral contraceptives, the sponge, etc. Talk to trusted people in your life, consult other articles at EmpowHer and make sure you speak to a medical professional if you’re considering a prescription birth control method!