Population Commission: FDA to declare contraceptives as non-abortifacient

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  • The FDA is in its final stage of evaluation for these 51 contraceptives.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 2) — The Philippines is one step closer to making family planning options available again.

The Commission on Population announced on Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is set declare contraceptives non-abortifacient. The move, the population commission said, will "effectively lift" a temporary restraining order that put a hold on the distribution and renewing of permits for contraceptives for women.

"The [FDA] is about to finish its evaluation per Supreme Court decision of 51 contraceptives and will be issuing a resolution anytime soon," the Commission on Population said in a statement.

"Contraceptives found non-abortifacient will then be issued Certificates of Product Registration," it added.

Among the 51 contraceptives up for recertification are implants like Implanon and Implanon NXT; injectables like Protec, the intrauterine devices Mirena and Securit-T; and pills or oral contraceptives like Estrelle, Daphne, Yasmin, and Nordette among others.

Officials of the Department of Health (DOH) have also finalized revised Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Reproductive Health Law. Under the rules, written parental consent is needed for minors to access contraceptives, and healthcare service providers who fail or refuse to disseminate information regarding programs and services due to religious reasons must provide evidence of their beliefs so that they will not be punished.

"The twin actions of the FDA and DOH have put the RPRH law back on track to full implementation," said population commission executive director Dr. Juan A. Perez III, referring to the Reproductive Health Law.

Malacanang celebrated the update on Thursday, adding the resolution "should have been done a long time ago."

"This is the only thing that the Supreme Court wants anyway so that we can fully implement the RH Law... The President is fully committed to enforcing [it]," said newly appointed Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The full implementation of the Reproductive Health Law is among the 10 main points of President Rodrigo Duterte's socio-economic agenda.

This was stalled In June 2015, after pro-life groups claimed that contraceptives were abortifacient. In response to this, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order halting the distribution of implants. The FDA was also prohibited from providing or renewing certificates for contraceptive drugs and devices, leaving the licenses of some reproductive supplies to expire over time.

Related: This might be your last year to access birth control

Only 17 contraceptives are still available in the market, with at least 12 expected to expire in 2018, said the Commission on Population.

LIST: Contraceptives affected by Supreme Court TRO

Women's rights groups slammed the decision. POPCOM, which is tasked with leading population management in the country, also previously called for the lifting of TRO.

The high court denied a motion for reconsideration this year, but in its decision wrote:  "The [TRO] would be deemed lifted if the questioned drugs and devices are found not abortifacient."

Related: Supreme Court asks for proof of contraceptive safety; FDA to comply

A statement from FDA said the agency formed a technical working group to re-evaluate reproductive health products. The 60-day review period began in August this year, right after a 10-day period allowing interested parties to submit petitions and evidence on whether the products were abortifacient or not.

The lifting of the temporary restraining order will also allow the Department of Health to distribute over 200,000 implants in their inventory before they expire in September next year.