ella contraceptive

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The new, several-mornings-after pill

Monday, August 16th, 2010

The FDA has just approved an emergency contraceptive that can prevent pregnancy if taken up to five days after intercourse.

The new drug, ulipristal acetate (ella), will be available by prescription only, unlike the so-called “morning-after pill,” levonorgestrel, which can be bought over-the-counter.

While ella is not the first emergency contraceptive to be approved, it gives women a wider window of opportunity to prevent pregnancy than previous emergency contraceptives such as levonorgestrel, which must be taken within 72 hours to be effective.

Although it’s been used in Europe for the past year, ella won’t be available here in the U.S. for another two to three months. And there are still risks and side-effects associated with it, as with all drugs. Still, the introduction of a new emergency alternative is good news for women and their doctors, in preventing unintended pregnancy.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD. MPH