Tuesday, January 16, 2007

When Pharmacists Decide Your Religion For You

This just in: If the FDA can't tell you how to live your life, then maybe your local pharmacists can.

This is regarding the Morning After Pill, otherwise known as Plan-B, that prevents pregancies up to 72 hours after sex. It was stuck in FDA Purgatory for years before finally getting approval...why? Not because it constituted a health risk, hazard, or was generally unsafe, but because, "The FDA rejected the application...saying it did not have enough information about the possible consequences on teenagers younger than 16." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083101271.html

In other words, the FDA was judging the pill's impact on society. However, is the FDA supposed to work that way? The answer is NO. Here is the FDA's mission statement:

"FDA's Mission Statement

The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health." (bold added by me)

Predicting the effect of a drug on 16 year olds and possible orgies they might get into (yes, that was the reason behind that statement) has nothing to do with the safety of Plan B (whether it'll cause heart attacks if you take it), the efficacy (whether or not it will serve its intended purpose), or the security (whether the drugs themselves are safe from tampering or outside sources.)

Yet, it was the politics of America's conservative (religious) right that has kept Plan-B off the shelves.

So, finally, after years of delay, Plan-B is approved for over the counter sales (even though they are kept BEHIND the counter so that pharmacists can make sure you're the legal age of 18 to buy it.)

So, naturally, MORE roadblocks come into play. Enter Brent Beams, pharmacist a Wal-mart in Columbus, who recently denied selling a couple Plan-B. He said, "he denied the couple's request for the contraceptive pills because "I do not believe in ending life, and life begins at conception." The article goes on to say,

"After the pharmacist turned them down, O'Neill and Byrd asked for a store manager who "came over and said, 'The pharmacist has the law on his side,' " O'Neill said."

Um, under WHAT law does the pharmacist have on their side, Mr. Manager? I can understand refusing service to someone...but what specific right does the pharmacist have to spout religious beliefs in someone's face, at his place of business (that he doesn't own), which directly affect someone else's life? I'm still listening...

Also in the news is the TOP official handling women's issues at the FDA has RESIGNED over the Plan-B fiasco, among other items:

"FDA Official Quits Over Delay on Plan B
Women's Health Chief Says Commissioner's Decision on Contraceptive Was Political

By Marc KaufmanWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, September 1, 2005; Page A08

The top Food and Drug Administration official in charge of women's health issues resigned yesterday in protest against the agency's decision to further delay a final ruling on whether the "morning-after pill" should be made more easily accessible.

Susan F. Wood, assistant FDA commissioner for women's health and director of the Office of Women's Health, said she was leaving her position after five years because Commissioner Lester M. Crawford's announcement Friday amounted to unwarranted interference in agency decision-making.

"I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overruled," she wrote in an e-mail to her staff and FDA colleagues.

Crawford said last week that unresolved regulatory issues made it impossible to approve expanded use of the emergency contraceptive. Wood said the decision was widely seen in the FDA as political.

"Many colleagues have made it known that they are deeply concerned about the direction of the agency," she said in an interview."

So says the women who was the FDA's pick to "be a champion for women's health."

In other words, YES, a political (and religious) agenda is driving the agency in charge of safeguarding this country's medicine and drugs. Boy, is that a relief! Oh, wait, those are the basic sentiments of what fueled the Inquisition...doh!

And get this. Says one opponent of Plan B:

"Wendy Wright, policy director for Concerned Women for America and a critic of easier access to Plan B, welcomed Wood's resignation.

"Thank goodness there is now one less political activist at the FDA who puts radical feminist ideology above women's health," she wrote in a statement. "Now that Susan Wood has some free time on her hands, she can look at the studies from countries that have made the morning-after pill available without a prescription. She'll find it creates a public health hazard, with no decrease in pregnancies, no decrease in abortion, but a substantial increase in sexually transmitted diseases." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/31/AR2005083101271.html

Oh, does it, Ms. Wright? First of all, for you to cite Susan Wood as a radical feminist is the crazy pot calling the kettle purple. This coming from a religious ideologue!!

Also, where exactly are your studies, information, and statistics coming from in those countries with the morning after pill?

Personally, I think the morning after pill should be available, at least with a prescription. But to have it pass through the FDA, and then have individual pharmacists sticking their noses into other people's business is simply unacceptable. That pharmacist should be fired so a lesson can be made. I mean, who made the decision to stock Wal-Mart stores with Plan-B? The pharmacist should take it up with HIM, not Wal-Mart's customer's, for God's sake. I mean, stocking the pill and then not selling it is not a very good business practice. It's like buying Humvee's for your car dealership and then not selling them because of the environment.

America the free, indeed.


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