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Dr. Coburn Criticizes Timing and Content of New FDA Announcement on the Morning After Pill

Location: Washington, DC

Dr. Coburn Criticizes Timing and Content of New FDA Announcement on the Morning After Pill

August 1, 2006

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK), a practicing physician who has delivered more than 4,000 babies, released the following statement today regarding the Food and Drug Administration's announcement that it is considering allowing over-the-counter sales of the morning after pill to women 18 and older.

"The Bush administration's policy on the morning after pill should be based on protecting the health of women, not their nominees. Delaying the appointment of a new FDA commissioner will have virtually no effect on the lives of ordinary Americans. However, bowing to short-term political concerns in this debate could endanger the health and safety of thousands of Americans. Science and standard health care practices support the policy that the morning after pill should be available by prescription only," Dr. Coburn said.

The FDA already requires that standard oral contraceptives be administered through prescription only. The morning after pill contains high doses of the same hormones contained in standard oral contraceptives.

"Exposing women to the high dose hormones in Plan B without the guidance of a physician will put them at risk. This proposal also greatly increases the risks to teens who will likely discover that obtaining morning after pills over the counter is as easy as obtaining alcohol," Dr. Coburn said.

"The United Kingdom's experience in making the morning after pill widely available should serve as a guide to policymakers in the United States," Dr. Coburn said. "After the United Kingdom adopted an aggressive ‘comprehensive' sex education program that included the morning after pill, the incidents of teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases increased rather than decreased. Teen pregnancy rates in the UK increased by 2.2 per cent in 2001-02. (Source: The Times, London; April 5, 2004). From 1999, when the UK's program began, to 2004, the rates of new cases of sexually-transmitted infections among UK teens increase by two-thirds (Source: The Daily Mail, London; March 8, 2004).

"The American people expect the FDA to be above politics regardless of whether an administration is Republican or Democrat. Those who oppose Andrew von Eschenbach's appointment because he has not pledged to make the morning after pill as available as aspirin are basing their opposition not on science, but on a desire to pander to their own special interest constituencies," Dr. Coburn said.

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