(Washington, DC) – Nov. 13, 2014 – On October 31, 2014, Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer, abruptly and without explanation, halted sales of the most affordable brand of emergency contraception (EC), AfterPill. Amazon routinely sells hundreds of over-the-counter drugs, yet the company has frequently impeded online sales of AfterPill, despite its safety and over-the-counter (i.e., nonprescription) status. Though Amazon has consistently sold the brand name EC pill, Plan B One-Step, AfterPill’s lower cost may make it a preferable choice for customers (approximately $35.00 without shipping for Plan B One-Step compared to $25.00 without shipping for AfterPill).
Hoping to put pressure on the retailer, AfterPill went public with its struggle on November 11. AfterPill’s statement spurred reproductive health advocates to action, as groups and individuals blasted Amazon with emails, signed petitions, and took to social media to spread the word. Facing tremendous backlash for its decision, Amazon reinstated sales of AfterPill on November 13.
“Initially, women’s access to EC was blocked by politics, but these days, one of the largest barriers is cost. It is absolutely essential that competition among EC products be allowed to thrive in order to create market pressures to reduce the price of EC and make it affordable for women of all income levels,” said Jessica Arons, President and CEO of the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP). Arons also praised the quick work of the reproductive health community: “Amazon’s decision to restock AfterPill is a victory and a testament to what can be accomplished when advocates mobilize.”
Because EC’s efficacy depends on how soon it is taken after a contraceptive failure or unprotected sex, it is crucial that women have unobstructed access to EC. Online sales of EC are especially important given that online shopping is increasingly popular and provides greater privacy and that customers in rural or low-income communities may have limited access to EC at brick-and-mortar pharmacies.
For more information about EC, please visit RHTP’s website.
On Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments for a case that would give bosses the right to deny their employees contraceptive coverage just because they oppose it.
With your help RWV fought hard to ensure women get contraceptive coverage with no cost sharing as part of the new health care law! Every major media outlet will be there, and we want reporters to see firsthand that the majority of voices outside the court don’t want bosses trying to impose their personal views on their employees.
Our coalition is organizing a banner to display outside of the Supreme Court to make sure our voices are heard. It will only make a strong statement to the media and the public if it’s signed by a lot of people. We are setting a goal of 200,000 names, and that means we need you to add your name.
PLEASE SIGN HERE.
The No Suprises Story outside Womankind Crisis Pregnancy Center in Appleton.
“Have Emergency Contraception (EC) BEFORE you need it,” is the message that the Family Planning Health Services (FPHS) “No Surprises Stork” is delivering to Wausau and throughout Wisconsin today. According to Lon Newman, FPHS executive director, the No Surprises Stork takes off from the Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Wausau this morning and visits four other CPCs around the state. Newman says the stork is delivering two serious Valentine’s Day messages in a light hearted way:
- Worry less on Valentine’s Day by having EC on hand; and,
- Accurate information and access to emergency contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies.
Director of Reproductive Health Operations, Michele Paoli, RN, explained that every contraceptive method has a failure rate, and women of reproductive age should have emergency contraception on hand as a back-up method. “Plan B™ or Levonogestrel 1.5 is more effective the sooner it is taken after a method failure,” she said. “Most women experience method failures — they forget to take their pill or a condom breaks, or they miss a birth control appointment. Having EC on hand in-advance-of-need helps women take it sooner, when it is more effective, rather than later.”
Lon Newman explained why the stork is making appearances in front of Crisis Pregnancy Centers: “Many people don’t know that CPCs provide inaccurate and even deceptive information about emergency contraception to women. We want to express that the best approach to crisis pregnancies is to prevent them. The best way to prevent abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The best way to help women is to give them accurate information and access to health care so they are empowered to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.” Newman said this point of view is in stark contrast to the CPC’s approach of using misinformation to persuade women not to use contraception or not to have abortions. “By giving women inaccurate information, Crisis Pregnancy Centers may even increase unwanted pregnancies and abortions.”
“Young people are confused right now,” FPHS EC coordinator, Frances Irwin said, “about access to birth control and STD testing and treatment.” She said that confidential low-cost family planning services are available at clinics throughout Wisconsin. “Insured or uninsured — 90% of our patients have no out-of-pocket expenses.” she said. “Young men and women want to protect the right to confidential sexual health care, and family planning clinics are here to insure that our communities are able to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections. These are public health priorities.”
Paoli said that FPHS is expanding its Emergency Contraception services to offer on-line internet sales of Levonogestrel 1.5 and Plan B™ at www.EZEC.org. The agency offers web-based sales to help women have EC on hand before they need it because it is more effective if taken sooner after method failure or unprotected intercourse.
Newman explained that FPHS is putting out this “Plan ahead for Valentine’s Day message” so people are able to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections “whether they are in rural areas, or urban underserved communities.”
The No Surprises Stork at the Crisis Pregnancy Center in Stevens Point, WI.
IN RESPONSE TO THIS ARTICLE.
Statement from HRA Pharma – Levonorgestrel EC label change
The effect of a women’s weight on levonorgestrel efficacy was first identified in 2011 during the development of an alternative emergency contraceptive product in the context of a clinical trial. As a result, HRA Pharma performed further analyses in 2012, which enabled it to put together a safety variation which was presented to European regulatory authorities at the start of 2013. By sharing the data in this manner, it demonstrates a clear obligation by the company to be transparent with the healthcare community and provide regulators with the most up-to-date information to inform women.
European authorities involved in the process decided to include the following statement in the levonorgestrel labeling: ?”In clinical trials, contraceptive efficacy was reduced in women weighing 75 kg or more and levonorgestrel was not effective in women who weighed more than 80 kg.”
HRA Pharma does not market levonorgestrel in the US, and is thus not involved in any process of label change for levonorgestrel in the US.
HRA Pharma recommends that women affected by the change in labeling be advised to discuss alternative emergency contraceptive options (IUD or alternative oral EC) with their doctor or pharmacist.
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