A controversial new form of emergency contraception known as “ella” is now available to American women for the first time, the company selling the drug announced Wednesday.
Ella, which can prevent a pregnancy as many as five days after sex, can be obtained by U.S. women who get a prescription from a doctor, according to an announcement by Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Morristown, N.J. The medication can even be obtained through an online pharmacy, the company said. The wholesale price will be $35.75.
The Food and Drug Administration approved ella in August. Ella was approved in Europe last year and was already available in at least 22 countries.
The decision to allow the sale of the pill was welcomed by family-planning proponents as a crucial new option to prevent unwanted pregnancies. But critics condemned the decision, arguing that it was misleading to approve ella as a contraceptive because the drug could also be used to induce an abortion.
“This is a deliberate effort to deceive women who would not otherwise take a drug that could harm their baby,” said Wendy Wright of the group Concerned Women for America. “Providing the drug through a website means that anyone can buy it, any number of times. A predatory man who is sexually abusing a girl or wants force an abortion on a woman will be able to easily obtain this drug. This puts women at risk of men who can slip the drug into their food or drink. Without doctors’ oversight, girls won't be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. When a woman experiences complications, the prescribing ‘doctor’ will be as anonymous as a drug dealer in a back alley.”