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Obama administration urges review of Plan B ruling

The Obama administration [official website] on Friday urged [text, PDF] the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] to delay the implementation of a decision that orders the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website] to make the popular "Plan B" [official website] emergency contraceptive (levonorgestrel-Teva) available over-the-counter for women as young as 15. In the brief, the government asks that the April opinion [text, PDF] be stayed pending appeal, stating that the "Plaintiffs' opposition fundamentally misconceives the nature of the FDA drug approval process and of the citizen petition." Supporters of the judge's orders also filed a brief [text, PDF] requesting that the appeals court remove the block and allow the order to be implemented. The court is to meet on Tuesday to discuss what is to be done about the stay, and it is still undetermined when the court will hear an appeal of the case itself.

In 2005 organizations and individuals concerned with women's health filed suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York [official website] in pursuit of expanded access to the drugs, including over the counter availability regardless of age. The judge ruled in their favor, but in December 2011 the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [official website], Kathleen Sebelius [HHS profile], intervened to block the ruling as it related to minors, citing inadequate evidence concerning adverse health effects. In April US District Judge Edward Korman overruled [JURIST report] Sebelius' "unprecedented," decision, calling the prior requirement for adolescents under age 16 "unjustified and burdensome." The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] appealed [JURIST report] from the decision in May, stating that the judge had overstepped his legal authority. Korman denied [text, PDF] the government's request to stay the motion pending the appeal under belief that the request was "frivolous" and "taken for the purpose of delay." The government was later granted the current stay by the Second Circuit, to be extended until May 28.

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