FDA Approves ‘Week-After’ Pill

The Food and Drug Administration approved a controversial new form of emergency contraception Friday that can prevent a pregnancy as many as five days after sex.

The decision to allow the sale of the pill, which will be marketed under the brand name “ella,” was welcomed by family-planning proponents as a crucial new option to prevent unwanted pregnancies. But critics condemned the decision, arguing that it was misleading to approve ella as a contraceptive because the drug could also be used to induce an abortion.

Ella can cut the chances of becoming pregnant by about two-thirds for at least 120 hours after a contraceptive failure or unprotected sex, studies have shown. The only other emergency contraceptive on the market, the so-called morning-after pill sold as Plan B, is significantly less effective, becomes less effectual with each passing day and will not work after 72 hours.

Supporters and opponents both said the decision marked the clearest evidence of a shift in the influence of political ideology at the FDA. The