December 13, 2011

Gillibrand, Over Dozen Senators Call on Sec. Sebelius to Explain the Science Behind Plan B Decision

Senators Call on HHS Secretary to Provide the “Specific Rationale” and “Scientific Data” for Overruling FDA on Emergency Contraception Access

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and more than a dozen of her Senate colleagues called on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to provide the scientific basis behind her decision to limit the availability Plan B emergency contraception. Last Wednesday, Secretary Sebelius overruled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by refusing to allow emergency contraceptives to be sold over the counter, despite the FDA’s recommendation to do so.

“We feel strongly that FDA regulations should be based on science,” the Senators wrote today. “We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation. On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence.”

The letter was sent from Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Carl Levin (D-MI), John Kerry (D-MA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Al Franken (D-MN), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

The full text of the letter follows:

December 13, 2011

 

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius                                          

Secretary                                                                                

US Department of Health and Human Services                    

200 Independence Avenue, SW                                            

Washington, DC  20201                                                        

 

Dear Secretary Sebelius,

 

We are writing to express our disappointment with your December 7, 2011 decision to block the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation to make Plan B One-Step available over-the-counter. We feel strongly that FDA regulations should be based on science.  We write to you today to ask that you provide us with the rationale for this decision. 

 

As numerous medical societies and patient advocates have argued, improved access to birth control, including emergency contraception, has been proven to reduce unintended pregnancies.  Nearly half of all pregnancies that occur in the United States each year are unintended. Keeping Plan B behind the counter makes it harder for all women to obtain a safe and effective product they may need to prevent an unintended pregnancy. 

 

We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation. On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence.

 

 

   Sincerely,

 

 

Patty Murray                                                           Kirsten Gillibrand                                   

United States Senator                                             United States Senator

 

Barbara Boxer                                                        Richard Blumenthal                                   

United States Senator                                             United States Senator

 

Daniel Akaka                                                         Carl Levin                                   

United States Senator                                             United States Senator

 

John Kerry                                                             Tom Harkin                                   

United States Senator                                             United States Senator

 

Al Franken                                                             Frank Lautenberg                                   

United States Senator                                             United States Senator

 

Bernie Sanders                                                       Ron Wyden                                   

United States Senator                                             United States Senator

 

Maria Cantwell                                                       Jeff Merkley                                   

United States Senator                                             United States Senator