Local protesters arrested at FDA


Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 11:46 p.m.
Four Gainesville women were among a group of nine people arrested during a protest Friday in front of the offices of the Food and Drug Administration in Rockville, Md.
Jenny Brown, Stephanie Seguin, Kelly Mangan and Candi Churchill were part of a group of 75 protesters from Florida, New York and the Washington area who gathered at FDA headquarters to demand that the so-called "morning-after pill," sold under the brand name Plan B, be made available to women without a prescription.
Back in Gainesville Monday, Seguin said the group had asked to speak to Steven Galson, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and when that request was denied, they moved to the doors of the building and sat down in protest.
"We were willing to be arrested and we didn't intend to leave until he'd talked to us," Seguin said.
FDA officials offered a meeting with Janet Woodcock, acting deputy commissioner, but Seguin explained that Woodcock has already come out in support of allowing the drug to be sold over the counter.
In May, Galson rejected an application from Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc., makers of Plan B, to allow the drug to be sold without a prescription. FDA staff reviewers and an outside advisory panel had strongly recommended that the emergency contraceptive could safely be sold over the counter.
"Our point was to show that Galson has ignored his staff, his advisory panels and some 70 health groups," Seguin said.
The nine demonstrators were arrested by officers of the Department of Homeland Security, handcuffed and charged with disorderly conduct. According to Seguin, the women plan to plead not guilty and seek a day in court.
The agency is scheduled to rule by Jan. 22 on a second application from Barr to make Plan B more readily accessible.
Diane Chun can be reached at (352) 374-5041 or chund@gvillesun.com.

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