Doctors urge easier access to ‘morning after’ pill

The largest U.S. doctor’s group on Monday endorsed efforts to increase access to the “morning after” contraceptive pill and urged federal regulators to reconsider a ban on over-the-counter sales of the drug.

The recommendation to boost the availability of the so-called Plan B pill - which sharply reduces the chances of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours - was one of several advisory resolutions passed by the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates at the annual meeting.

“The (Food and Drug Administration’s) own advisory committee determined emergency contraceptive pills were safe,” yet the FDA decided to forbid sales without a prescription, said Dr. Ronald Davis, who headed the AMA committee looking into the matter.

He said physicians would pre-write prescriptions to the drug to make it more readily available and encourage ways to quickly respond to women who want it.

The AMA delegates also voted to urge the Bush administration to reestablish funding to United Nations-sponsored population and family planning programs.

The delegates voted down a recommendation to make every American a potential organ donor, rather than the current system where consent from the donor or the family is needed.

Doctors said though some European countries have adopted such policies, they were afraid that potential donors needed a more clear-cut opportunity to opt out and decided the plan required further study.

The AMA, which has long been opposed to tobacco use, voted to send a message to the motion picture industry asking it to apply an “R” rating to any new film depicting actors smoking, which it said was increasingly common.

“It’s getting to the point where smoking among actors in movies is greater than in the general population,” Davis said, adding some films aimed at children had characters who smoked. He said studies show children are more likely to start smoking if they see it on the big screen.

The group passed several resolutions targeting the growing obesity epidemic, including urging the U.S. Agriculture Department to add low-cost, healthy foods to its list of dietary recommendations. It said low-income Americans were particularly susceptible to obesity and needed less expensive food alternatives.

Schools should also be mandated to provide at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, the group said.

The meeting continues through Wednesday.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD