The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it approved an application by Teva Women’s Health (TEVA) to sell the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step to women (and men) 15 years of age and older without a prescription. The product will also now be available on store shelves rather than behind a counter. Teva is redesigning the packaging to include anti-theft features and a UPC code that, when scanned, prompts the cashier to verify proof of the customer’s age.
Of course, most 15-year-olds don’t have driver’s licenses. How will they prove their age? Not with a school ID—those are not valid. Consumers need to present a government-issued ID, such as a state ID, passport, or birth certificate, FDA spokeswoman Erica Jefferson says. A Department of Motor Vehicles learner’s permit is also acceptable.
Some reproductive health advocates are concerned that these requirements will keep Plan B out of the hands of many consumers who are legally eligible. “This compromise doesn’t address the reality that not every woman has a photo ID—especially women in urban areas who may not drive and women aged 15 and 16,” Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement.
FDA and Teva declined to comment about this concern.
The drug retails for about $50. In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services directed the FDA to turn down Teva’s application to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter to those aged 16 and younger, despite the FDA’s recommendations.