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Plan B Might be Ineffective for Women Weighing Over 176 Pounds

Update Date: Nov 25, 2013 05:20 PM EST

Plan B is an emergency contraceptive pill that can be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse and works to prevent pregnancy. Even though it is not 100 percent effective, Plan B works the majority of the time when taken within those three days. In a new report, a European manufacturer is stating that Plan B might actually be ineffective for some women. The French company, HRA Parma, which produces a morning-after pill that is identical to Plan B, called Norlevo, stated that the pill is not effective for women who weight over 176 pounds and loses it effectiveness for women weighing over 165 pounds. HRA Pharma announced that it would change the labels on Norlevo to reflect these weight limitations.

"There's a whole swath of American women for whom [these pills] are not effective," commented James Trussell, a professor of public affairs at Princeton and a senior fellow with the Guttmacher Institute reported by Mother Jones.

The American options that include Plan B One-step, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and several general two-pill drugs are made with similar dosages and chemicals to Norlevo. If HRA Pharma's findings are true, that would mean that the average American woman, who has an average weight of 166 pounds according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cannot use these emergency contraceptives.

The drug company first started looking into the need to add these weight limits on Norlevo's labels after a study headed by Anna Glasier from the University of Edinburgh found that the effectiveness of the ingredient, levonorgestrel tends to fail in women with higher body mass indexes (BMI). Levonorgestrel is a common compound that manufacturers use in these pills to prevent pregnancies. Based from HRA Pharma's findings, Norlevo will be sold with a new label, stating:

"Studies suggest that Norlevo is less effective in women weighing [165 pounds] or more and not effective in women weighing [176 pounds] or more. [It] is not recommended...if you weigh [165 pounds] or more."

Whether or not American emergency contraceptives will change their labeling or the chemical makeup of the drugs that use levonorgestrel remains unknown.

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