FDA modifications Plan B’s packaging to make clear it is not an abortion capsule

In this photo illustration, PlanB’s one-step emergency contraception is on display on June 30, 2022 in San Anselmo, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration is changing the informational packaging of the emergency contraceptive pill, Plan B One-Step, to clarify that it is not an abortion pill, the federal agency announced Friday.

Plan B is an over-the-counter medication that can be taken as a backup method of birth control to reduce the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, Plan B works by stopping or delaying the release of an egg from the ovary, not by causing an abortion, the agency said.

“Plan B One-Step will not work if a person is already pregnant, meaning it will not interfere with an existing pregnancy,” the FDA said in a press release. “There is no evidence that the drug affects implantation or maintaining a pregnancy after implantation, so it does not terminate a pregnancy.”

Previously, packages for Plan B and generic versions of the drug falsely claimed that taking the pill might be able to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. Medical professionals say this claim isn’t backed by any scientific evidence, but was included on the label to approve Plan B’s over-the-counter status.

As a result, the FDA revised the informational pamphlets included in Plan B’s packaging to show that it doesn’t work after insemination, the agency said.

The US Supreme Court in June overturned the constitutional right to abortion, sparking a wave of concerns about continued access to birth control and emergency contraception. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said the Supreme Court’s landmark rulings establishing gay rights and the right to contraception should be reconsidered as federal abortion rights have been revoked.

At least eight states immediately banned all forms of abortion, including medical one-pill abortions, within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision.

The FDA said because Plan B prevents pregnancy by acting on ovulation “long before implantation,” it doesn’t cause abortions.

The agency recommends consumers talk to their doctors about emergency contraception so they understand “the importance of using these products as directed.”

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