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FDA to Decide Whether to Lift Age Limit on 'Morning After Pill'

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesUPDATE: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has blocked the Plan B morning-after birth control pill from hitting drug store shelves, countering recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Administration is set to weigh in on Wednesday whether the age limit on who can purchase an emergency contraceptive pill should be scrapped, making the drug available to everyone over the counter.

Plan B, also known as the "morning after pill," is currently available at the pharmacy counter without a prescription to women 17 and older.  Those who are younger can still get the pill, but they need to have it prescribed to them by their doctors.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the makers of Plan B, issued the request in February to place its drug on store shelves.

"Label comprehension and safety data show that all women are able to safely and effectively take this product," Denise Bradley, senior director of corporate communications at Teva Pharmaceuticals, told ABC News at the time. "It is not typical for any women's health product to have age restrictions."

Plan B, or levonorgestrel, is a progestin-only emergency contraceptive that can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The drug is not effective if the woman is already pregnant, and it reportedly does not pose harm to a fetus.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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