FDA grants Plan B maker exclusivity

The Food and Drug Administration said it will give the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step, the morning-after pill that can be sold over the counter to women of all ages, exclusive marketing rights to the drug for three years.

The move comes after the Obama administration last month abandoned its fight to keep in place age limits on over-the-counter sales of the widely used contraceptive, saying it would comply with a federal judge’s ruling to lift such restrictions. Previously, women under 17 had to get a prescription to buy Plan B.

The FDA’s ruling this week means that Teva Pharmaceuticals is the only company that can sell the morning-after pill without any restrictions through April 2016. Generic brands can apply to have their products sold over the counter after that date. Plan B One-Step retails for about $50; generic brands tend to cost at least $10 less.

— Brady Dennis

Drilling-rig blowout forces evacuations

Natural gas flowed uncontrolled from a well off the Louisiana coast Tuesday after a blowout that forced the evacuation of 44 workers aboard a drilling rig, authorities said.

No injuries were reported in the midmorning blowout and there was no fire as of Tuesday afternoon at the site, about 55 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Hercules Offshore operated the drilling rig where the blowout occurred.

The Coast Guard kept nautical traffic out of an area within 500 yards of the site, where the spewing gas posed a fire hazard. The Federal Aviation Administration restricted aircraft up to 2,000 feet above the area.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said inspectors flying over the site soon after the blowout saw a light sheen covering an area about a half-mile by 50 feet. However, it was dissipating quickly.

The bureau said the blowout happened south of Grand Isle, where the water depth was reported to be 154 feet.

— Associated Press

High court rejects bid to stop gay marriage

California’s highest court again refused Tuesday to immediately stop the state from sanctioning same-sex marriages.

The state Supreme Court rejected a request by the elected government official in charge of issuing marriage licenses in San Diego County for an order halting gay marriages, which resumed in the state last month.

Clerk Ernest Dronenburg Jr. sought the stay Friday, when he also asked the court to consider his argument that same-sex marriages remain illegal in most of California despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision widely regarded as authorizing them.

The state high court has asked for more written arguments on that issue.

The court last week rejected a similar request for a temporary hold on same-sex marriages from the sponsors of the state’s voter-approved gay-marriage ban.

— Associated Press

Judge delays abortion law enforcement

A federal judge on Tuesday delayed until next year the enforcement of Alabama’s new abortion law, which tightens restrictions on providers and, according to opponents, could force the closing of more than half of the state’s abortion clinics.

The law, signed by Gov. Robert Bentley (R) in April, requires every doctor who performs an abortion at a clinic to have staff privileges at a local hospital and mandates the clinics meet the same facility standards as ambulatory care centers. The law was set to go into effect Aug. 15.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s order delays the law until March 24, 2014, while the court considers a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

— Reuters


Ricin suspect delivers baby in custody: The Texas woman accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) has given birth prematurely to a baby while in custody. Attorneys for Shannon Guess Richardson and her husband, Nathan, said she gave birth July 4 to a boy named Brody. A federal affidavit alleges that the woman contacted authorities to try to implicate her husband in the case, before being arrested herself June 7.

Victims idenitfied in Ohio: Authorities on Tuesday identified the second of three female victims whose bodies were found last week wrapped in trash bags, using the tattoos on her body. The body of Shetisha Sheeley, 28, of Cleveland, was found in a field Saturday, East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said. Late Tuesday, the third victim was identified by her grandmother as Shirellda Helen Terry, 18. Police on Monday identified the first known victim as Angela Deskins, 38, of Cleveland. Michael Madison, 35, a registered sex offender, is in custody facing preliminary charges of aggravated murder and kidnapping.

Police officer disciplined for releasing suspect’s photos: A state police photographer who released photos of the bloodied Boston Marathon bombing suspect during his capture was placed on restricted duty Tuesday. Sgt. Sean Murphy said he leaked the photos of what he called “the face of terror” to Boston magazine last week to counter a glamorized image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone. Murphy wasn’t authorized to release the photos. He already served a one-day, unpaid suspension and has received another five-day unpaid suspension. Following a status hearing Tuesday, Murphy was placed on desk duty.

Write bold lede-in here Write text here write text here write text here

— From news services