Since Plan B was introduced in Canada in 1999, the so-called morning-after pill has been controversial.

After a federal regulatory agency granted it over-the-counter status yesterday, its maker, Paladin Labs, is waiting for the B.C. College of Pharmacists to give it final approval before it’s moved from behind counters. In all other provinces, except Quebec and Newfoundland, it’s immediately available.

>> Canada is only the fifth country to agree to allow Plan B to be sold over-the-counter in pharmacies. It’s also available in Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and India.

>> When it was first made available, women needed a prescription from doctors to use the drug.

>> In April, 2005, it was upgraded to behind-the-counter status, which made it available without a prescription but required consultation with a pharmacist.

>> In Feb. 2006, a story in the Canadian Medical Association Journal about women’s lack of access to Plan B was altered by the publisher, prompting an opinion piece by the editor about censorship. He and another editor at the journal were fired.

>> The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities has now accepted a recommendation to grant it over-the-counter status, which would make it freely available on drug store shelves.

>> The proposed change would see Plan B stocked near the pharmacist so women could easily ask for advice on its use.

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