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.
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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.
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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.