Court orders immediate access to some emergency contraceptives

You win some, you lose some. That's the state of affairs on emergency contraception today, at least from the FDA's point of view. The government lost its bid to delay open access to some emergency "morning-after" pills--but won court concession on the others.

A New York appeals court agreed to allow the feds to continue to bar full, over-the-counter access to Plan B One-Step and other one-pill versions of emergency birth control. But the court ordered the FDA to allow the two-pill versions to be sold to customers regardless of age.

The legal fight follows an unusual intervention by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who overruled the FDA's 2011 decision to make emergency contraception widely available, rather than prescription-only or behind-the-counter. Sebelius ruled for curbs limiting access for girls under age 17. Then, under pressure from women's groups and from a federal judge's order to lift those restrictions, the FDA in April allowed Teva ($TEVA) to sell its branded Plan B One-Step over the counter to girls as young as 15.

The legal fight went on, however, with advocates for open access emboldened by Judge Edward Korman's court ruling. In his decision, Korman called the FDA's limits "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable" and deemed Sebelius's action "obviously political." Korman had delayed enforcing that decision, allowing time for the FDA to appeal to the 2nd Circuit. Now, half that delay is lifted, and the 2nd Circuit has agreed to hear the case on an expedited basis.

- read the Reuters news