A morning after pill called Ella (ulipristal acetate) has been approved as a prescription-only-product, and prevents pregnancy if taken within five days after unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure.
This drug has been approved in Europe since 2009.
Side effects? Possible side effects, reported from the clinical trials, include nausea, abdominal pain, headache, dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps, period pains), and dizziness – similar to those found in other FDA-approved levonorgestrel emergency contraceptives.
The product label says that women with known or suspected pregnancy, as well as breastfeeding mothers should not use Ella.
It’s expected that news like this will create a lot of controversy. Especially since there is speculation that this may also help in abortion – Ella, known generically as ulipristal acetate, works as a contraceptive by blocking progesterone’s activity, delaying the ovaries from producing an egg. But progesterone is also needed to prepare the womb to accept a fertilized egg and to nurture a developing embryo. That’s how RU-486 prevents a fertilized egg from implanting and dislodges growing embryos. Ella’s chemical similarity to RU-486 raises the possibility that it might do the same thing, perhaps if taken at elevated doses. But no one knows for sure whether the drug would induce an abortion, because the drug has never been tested that way.