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New morning-after pill works for up to 5 days


4 Star

New morning-after pill works for up to 5 days

Our Review Summary

In 1999, the FDA first approved the prescription-only Plan B (two high dose pills of Levonorgestrel, a hormone commonly found in many birth control pills).  In 2006, Plan B was made available without a prescription to women over the age of 18, however this ruling remains controversial and it is currently only available over-the-counter in 9 states (  

EllaOne, a new drug currently only available in Europe, may be more effective at preventinging pregnancy than Levonorgestrel even when taken several days after uNPRotected sex or contraceptive failure. In a study published in the current issue of Lancet, women who took ellaOne within five days had a lower chance of pregnancy than those who took Levonorgestrel. In the study 1.8% got pregnant after taking ellaOne compared to 2.6% with Levonorgestrel.

This story quotes two independent health experts who provide very valuable and balanced perspectives on the new study.

The story could have been improved by describing the costs of the new drug compared to Levonorgestrel. Although the story mentions that ellaOne could cost up to three times as much as Levonorgestrel, this is not adequate information on costs. Most importantly, however, the story does the reader a disservice by not describing the harms and side effects of either option. In the study 19% experienced headaches and other common side effects include abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, and cramps.


Why This Matters

In short, taking these pills is not a pleasant experience but nonetheless is far safer than abortion.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention costs of either drug, other than to describe the costs of ellaOne as "three times the price of Plan B."

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story adequately quantifies the benefits of ellaOne by presenting both the number of pregnancies and the pregnancy rate in both groups.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story doesn’t mention any potential harms of the drug, other than unwanted pregnancy. In the study 19% of women experienced headaches and one dizziness. Common side effects of the drug also include stomach pain and nausea, cramps, and vaginal bleeding. None of these were mentioned in the story.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story adequately describes the design of the current study.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story does not engage in disease-mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story quotes two independent health officials who provide very valuable perspectives on the new findings.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


The story compares the new drug to the existing option, Levonorgestrel.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story clearly states that ellaOne is only available by prescription in Europe, whereas Levonorgestrel is available in many countries worldwide, including the US.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story accurately represents the novelty of ellaOne compared to Levonorgestrel.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Because the story quotes independent researchers and health officials, the reader can assume the story does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory


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