The FDA’s Two-Track Response to Plan-B Ruling

Last month, a federal district court rejected the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision not to allow the sale of Plan-B contraception over-the-counter to females under 17. On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responded. On Wednesday, the FDA announced it would allow Plan-B to be sold over-the-counter to females 15 and older. Then on Wednesday, the Justice Department announced it would appeal the district court’s ruling overturning the prior policy. The Justice Department claims the appeal is necessary to defend the integrity of the FDA’s drug approval process, and the agency’s ability to base its decisions on expert “scientific judgments.” Yet as Ronald Bailey notes, the whole reason the Administration’s Plan-B rules ended up in court in the first place was that political officials overruled the FDA’s expert judgment. Further, as I noted here, drug approval decisions necessarily involve policy considerations, and cannot be resolved by science alone.