Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

5-Days-After-Sex Pill Gets FDA Panel Nod

Experts Advise FDA to Approve a New Emergency Contraceptive Called Ella
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 17, 2010 -- A new emergency contraceptive fully effective for five days after sex should be approved by the FDA, the federal agency's expert advisory panel says.

By 11-0 votes, the panel found Ella to be safe and effective.

The drug, to be called Ella in the U.S., already is approved in Europe and sold there as EllaOne.

Currently, the only other approved emergency contraceptive is Plan B One-Step. Although Ella likely will be available only by prescription, Plan B is approved for over-the-counter sale to women aged 17 and older. Women younger than age 17 must have a prescription.

The two emergency contraceptives work differently:

  • Plan B One-Step contains levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone used in lower doses in many birth control pills.
  • Ella contains ulipristal, a non-hormonal drug that blocks the effects of key hormones necessary for conception.
  • Plan B should be taken as soon as possible after sex. It may work for up to 72 hours, but is ineffective once the hormonal surge that leads to ovulation occurs.
  • Although emergency contraception should not be delayed, Ella's efficacy does not fade for 120 hours (five days) after sex, regardless of whether the hormonal surge has occurred.

One possibly serious drawback to Ella is that it may be less effective in obese women. In a 6-5 vote, the panel said no specific labeling should be required to address this issue.

The most common side effects of Ella are nausea, headache, painful menstruation, abdominal pain, fatigue, and dizziness.

Can Ella Cause Abortion?

Ella belongs to a class of drugs called selective progesterone receptor modulators. The only other approved drug in this class is mifepristone, better known as RU-486. Mifepristone is approved for use as part of a regimen that induces abortion.

Because it is better absorbed by the body than mifepristone, Ella can be used at low doses that prevent conception but that should not cause abortion.

By a unanimous vote, the panel said there was no need for Ella to carry specific labeling warning against off-label use -- the use of a drug for a purpose other than the one for which it was approved. Nor was there a need for the manufacturer to conduct specific physician education on the issue.

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
pregnancy test and calendar
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result