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 (http://www.pharmacyaccess.org).
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.
In short, taking these pills is not a pleasant experience but nonetheless is far safer than abortion.
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."
The story adequately quantifies the benefits of ellaOne by presenting both the number of pregnancies and the pregnancy rate in both groups.
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.
The story adequately describes the design of the current study.
The story does not engage in disease-mongering.
The story quotes two independent health officials who provide very valuable perspectives on the new findings.
The story compares the new drug to the existing option, Levonorgestrel.
The story clearly states that ellaOne is only available by prescription in Europe, whereas Levonorgestrel is available in many countries worldwide, including the US.
The story accurately represents the novelty of ellaOne compared to Levonorgestrel.
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.