Barr Laboratories says it “applauds” the move by New Hampshire governor, John Lynch, which will make the firm’s emergency contraceptive, Plan B (levonorgestrel), available in pharmacies without a prescription.

The controversial move comes just days after Lester Crawford’s nomination as the new head of the US Food and Drug Administration hit another hurdle for the agency’s failure to announce its decision on whether to approve Plan B. Two US senators blocked a vote on the nomination last week [[16/06/05d]]. The FDA had been set to make its decision on the product’s approvability back in January after controversially knocking back Barr’s original application [[23/07/04b]], [[07/05/04b]], even though its advisory committee had ruled that data showed it to be safe and effective [[17/12/03a]].

Under the new bill, New Hampshire becomes the seventh US state to allow pharmacists to provide to the emergency contraceptive either through a collaborative relationship with a doctor, or by taking a special course. Emergency contraception is already available in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico and Washington through access programmes in some pharmacies.

“This bill passed with such strong bipartisan support because it is good commonsense. I am pro-choice. I also believe we must work together to reduce the need for abortions. Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to do that,” Governor Lynch said in a statement.