But there's a catch.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday that it had approved the first-ever generic form of the emergency contraceptive pill known as Plan B (levonorgestrel), manufactured by Watson Laboratories, Inc.
At the current time, however, the generic version of Plan B will be made available only to young women ages 17 and younger and will require a doctor's prescription.
First approved in 1999, Plan B emergency contraceptive (commonly referred to as the morning-after pill) can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse or suspected prophylactic failure. It's comprised of the same ingredients found in some birth control pills but contains higher hormone doses.
Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse. Taken within this time-frame, this morning-after pill can stop the egg's release (ovulation) and thus pregnancy before it occurs. That's because conception does not typically happen immediately after sex and instead can take up to a few days (as the sperm swim upstream to reach the egg). Though the two are sometimes confused, Plan B is not the same as what is commonly referred to as the abortion pill, Mifepristone (Mifeprex), which terminates a pregnancy.Birth Control After Pregnancy
Plan B is available over-the-counter for women ages 18 and older, but the generic version cannot be approved for nonprescription use in women ages 18-plus until August 2009. Duramed, who manufactures Plan B, has market exclusivity for nonprescription use until then.