Jets’ best Plan B at QB after losing out on Cousins to Vikings

It’s not over ‘til it’s over… but it’s over. The Jets won’t be signing big-fish free-agent Kirk Cousins, prompting a new most important question: What is Gang Green’s Plan B at quarterback? The news Tuesday morning that Cousins will be making his first — and let’s get real: only — free-agent visit to Minnesota Wednesday/Thursday wasn’t exactly a surprise to folks on One Jets Drive bracing for this annoying outcome, but it does create an interesting scenario for this star-crossed franchise desperately searching for a solution at the sport’s most important position. (Missing out on Cousins, who will make about $28 million/year in a three-year deal with the Vikings, will give the Jets brass plenty of financial flexibility to address other areas of need in free agency). Grabbing a quarterback in the first round of the upcoming draft is only part of the Jets’ contingency plan. General manager Mike Maccagnan will have to supplement his signal-caller room with at least one veteran. Josh McCown, coming off a career year in the twilight of his NFL journey, appears to be a no-brainer to return. McCown’s on-field production coupled with his invaluable intangibles (there might be no greater locker room presence in the league) should make him an important part of the equation for Gang Green in 2018. The 15-year veteran repeatedly said this offseason that he wants to return to fill whatever role is required. Cousins plans to sign with Vikings as Jets look at other options Plan B gets a bit more complicated though. Would a McCown-rookie quarterback tandem suffice for Todd Bowles, who was eye witness last season to what can happen when your backup quarterback gives you no real chance to win games? The Jets, rebuilding or not, are in the win-now business. So, would this regime be comfortable throwing a rookie quarterback into the fire if the 38-year-old Continue Reading

Kiszla: Vance Joseph is sorry. Sorry doesn’t cut it in Broncos Country. John Elway needs to find Plan B.

The truth was chilling, but everybody in Broncos Country from John Elway to the die-hards in the stadium felt the truth so deep in our bones that it aches. And the truth is: As coach of this team, Vance Joseph can’t win. For a proud NFL city where losing has never been an option, tomorrow can’t come soon enough. “I want to be here to fix it,” Joseph said Sunday. But unless you view the world through orange-tinted glasses, it’s mighty hard to envision a brighter tomorrow in Broncos Country if Joseph remains as head coach. At the end of a season to forget, as the temperature in Denver plummeted to 16 degrees and maybe the 16,000 fans that remained in Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High clung to hope, the Broncos did what they’ve done way too often under the direction of Joseph. The Broncos found a way to lose. Kansas City beat Denver 27-24 on a field goal as time on the clock, and maybe the Joseph era, expired. We’ve heard the story 11 times in a sad season, too many times, in frustrating ways that wasted a prime year of Von Miller’s brilliant career. For that offense alone, Joseph should be fired. “It is sad. It is a sad story if it happens,” said Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who would be sad to see Joseph go. “I think the season in general is a sad story.” Remember when Kyle Shanahan was a candidate to replace Gary Kubiak as coach of the Broncos? Against all odds, the son of the Mastermind not only found a better gig in San Francisco, Shanny 2.0 also finished 2017 with more victories (six) and a better quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) than what we’re stuck with in Denver. Take Our Poll When Kubiak hung up his coaching whistle, Elway cleaned out his good buddy’s staff. Change is not always progress, though. Every coordinator from the Denver team that won Super Bowl 50 not only landed on his feet, but also landed back in the this season’s playoffs. There’s our Continue Reading

Plan B for Plan B

In April 2003 Barr Pharmaceuticals submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration requesting that Plan B–an emergency contraceptive often referred to as the morning-after pill–be made available without a prescription and sold straight from the drugstore shelves, like condoms. Twenty-seven months later, American women are no closer to having easy access to Plan B, which prevents an unplanned pregnancy if taken within seventy-two hours after unprotected intercourse. Currently facing sharp criticism from both the left and right over its bungling of the matter, the FDA today simply refuses to issue a decision on emergency contraception, although one was due this past January. Veteran observers pronounce the FDA “stuck in the mud” on Plan B. The present standoff is a testament to the extraordinary influence of the Christian right over Bush Administration policy on women’s reproductive health. Eight months after Barr submitted its initial application, an FDA advisory committee voted overwhelmingly (23 to 4) to go over-the-counter with emergency contraception. Scientists on the panel determined the drug to be both safe and effective, ruling that easy access to Plan B was critical to preventing unintended pregnancies, thereby reducing the need for abortion. That should have been the end of it. But Bush Administration officials, concerned at the time with marshaling the evangelical vote in the presidential election, weren’t pleased with the committee’s decision. As The Nation first reported in May, an FDA staff member contacted Dr. W. David Hager–a controversial evangelical Ob-Gyn on the panel who voted against Plan B–and requested that Hager write a “minority opinion” to further elucidate objections he raised during the hearings; namely, that wider access to emergency contraception would increase “risky behavior” among girls as young as 11 or 12 [see McGarvey, “Dr. Continue Reading

Judge orders FDA to make Plan B morning after pill available to females of all ages

Coming to a pharmacy near you: The morning-after pill, now available to all females regardless of their age. The controversial emergency contraceptive, sold over the counter as Plan B, was cleared for sale without age restrictions Friday by Brooklyn Federal Judge Edward Korman. The judge, in a harsh rebuke of the Obama administration, ordered the Food and Drug Administration to comply within 30 days. Before the decision — described as “landmark” by one attorney — girls under the age of 17 needed a prescription to get Plan B. Now they can buy the contraceptive without one, and without parental consent. While Korman’s ruling was a tough pill to swallow for some, others felt it was the right medicine in the eight-year debate over its availability. “It’s not abortion,” said Doreen Diegman, 46, who says she’s taken the pill herself. “It should be accessible, especially to teenagers.” Tracy Woodall, 42, was upset by word that buying Plan B could become as easy as purchasing a toothbrush for preteens. “That’s horrible!” said Woodall, the mother of a 12-year-old girl. “That’s going to bring out a whole lot of chaos and promiscuous children. It’s just encouraging sex for our young people.” Mom Beatrice Vagra, 45, thought age 16 was an appropriate cutoff for buying the pill. “I just think under 16 is too young to make such a decision by themselves,” said Vagra. “But for any woman — it’s their body, it’s their choice.” The judge, in a pointed 59-page decision, ripped U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for her 2011 decision to keep the age limit at 17. Her position was “politically motivated, scientifically unjustified and contrary to agency precedent,” Korman wrote. Sebelius expressed concern that some 11-year-old girls, while capable of Continue Reading

Plan B: Senators vow to fight Health and Human Services decision to ban ‘morning after’ pill from pharmacy shelves

A group of Senators want to know why Health and Human Services Secretary decided to keep a “morning after” contraceptive pill off pharmacy shelves. President Obama’s top health official Kathleen Sebelius raised eyebrows when she said it wasn't “politics” that guided her decision to keep pharma giant Teva’s “Plan B One-Step” contraceptive from being sold to women under the age of 17 without a doctor’s order. If politics wasn't the reason, what was? Fourteen Senators asked Sebelius in a letter Tuesday. "We ask that you share with us your specific rationale and the scientific data you relied on for the decision to overrule the FDA recommendation,” the letter stated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had already done the studies and recommended that the emergency contraceptives be sold over the counter, and available without prescription to women under the age 17. Sebelius overruled that recommendation. “It is commonly understood that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age, which I believe are relevant to making this determination as to non- prescription availability of this product for all ages,” Sebelius wrote the FDA commissioner in a Dec. 7 memo. It was the first time HHS reversed an agency approval. “We feel strongly that FDA regulations should be based on science," the Senators wrote Sebelius Tuesday. “On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women's health will be based on medical and scientific evidence, " the letter stated. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was among the 13 Democrats and one Independent who wanted the backup documents behind the administration's decision. “Show us the science,” one staffer said. Mayor Bloomberg blasted Sebelius’ decision Continue Reading

If Mets’ Jose Reyes leaves in a trade or through free agency, Ruben Tejada may prove solid Plan B

Ruben Tejada will never be Jose Reyes. He doesn't have the speed to be as dynamic at the plate, but with Reyes' future as a Met very much up in the air these days as he heads toward free agency, Tejada is about as good a Plan B as you could want. And he might turn out to be a lot more than that. His glove alone is slick enough to guarantee him a long career in the big leagues, but at a young age he plays with veteran savvy, at the plate as well as in the field. With that in mind, I think the kid will make an All-Star team or three before he's done. And not merely because he is hitting .294 - after going 0-for-3 in night's 6-3 loss to the Braves -  in 51 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Buffalo a few weeks ago. Obviously Tejada doesn't look as overmatched as he did at times last year, when he hit .213 in 216 at-bats as a 20-year-old, but it's only a small sample. If it remains to be seen what kind of numbers he'll put up as he matures, what's impressive so far is his approach at the plate, depending on the situation. In Thursday's 9-8 comeback win over the Pirates, for example, Tejada shot an opposite-field, bases-loaded single through a big hole between first and second in the sixth, then later jumped on a first-pitch fastball up in the strike zone to deliver the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. Terry Collins practically wanted to kiss the kid. All season, Collins has preached having a plan at the plate, especially with runners on base. And nothing has frustrated him more than the Mets' failures in that area. "This game is about situational hitting," Collins said before Friday night's game. "That's been one of my biggest complaints about this year - we just haven't executed in that way. "So to have the youngest guy on the team do it, I think it's a huge step forward. I was just telling (hitting coach) Dave Hudgens today that I always thought Ruben was going to be an outstanding offensive player, and he might be Continue Reading

Plan B morning after pill; 17-year-olds could get emergency contraceptive without prescription

The maker of the Plan B morning-after pill is gearing up for another round with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over whether the emergency contraceptive can be sold without a prescription for younger women and girls. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd earlier this week said it had asked the FDA for permission to sell the drug without any age limits, the latest salvo in a decade-long battle over the pill. Only those 17 and older can buy it now without a doctor's order. Chief Executive Shlomo Yanai announced the move on Tuesday, calling it "an important milestone" for the product, now sold as one pill called Plan B One-Step. It is also the latest political challenge for the agency, which was widely criticized for its handling of the pill under the Bush Administration. Medical and women's groups have sought wider access for Plan B, which Teva acquired in 2008, since 2001. But the effort stalled under President George W. Bush and sparked multiple legal actions and congressional protests that the agency was letting politics trump science. The FDA allowed limited "behind the counter" sales for women 18 and older in 2006 that required controversial identification checks. It later lowered the limit to age 17. Plan B, first approved in 1999, contains a higher dose of the hormone progestin that has been widely used in regular birth control pills for decades. It had been sold in a two-pill version taken within 72 hours that now faces generic rivals. Advocates for such emergency pills say they help reduce unwanted pregnancies or abortions and that quick, easy access for girls and women of all ages is critical for the medicines to work. Conservative critics charge they could lead to promiscuity and sexual abuse. Women's groups have sued the FDA over its handling of Plan B, and in 2009 the agency was ordered to reconsider its decision. Representatives for the FDA had no immediate comment on the status of its review or Teva's new Continue Reading

Ground Zero’s escalating cost: Another $20M needed to pay for World Trade Center’s ‘Plan B’

Taxpayers will have to cough up another $20 million for Ground Zero because of the brutal battle raging between the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein. The agency's board voted on Thursday to pay 14 different consultants to plan and design new blueprints for the World Trade Center site that would scrap two of the builder's iconic towers. Known as "Plan B," the redesign was ordered two months ago by Gov. Paterson as a way to ensure that public projects on the 16-acre site would still rise if Silverstein withdraws or is booted from downtown. The seemingly intractable mess between the developer and the PA over what gets built when and who pays for it is now being reviewed by an independent panel that is expected to act later this year. "We are reassessing what we would need to do should Mr. Silverstein's projects not go forward," said PA Executive Director Chris Ward. Hanging in the balance is the fate of the PATH Transportation Hub, the budget-busting mega-terminal that would be shoehorned between Silverstein's 79-story Tower 2 and 71-story Tower 3. The Hub's power, ventilation and fuel tanks, vital for its operations, are to be housed in the lower floors of the two skyscrapers, which would also provide structural supports for its bird-like glass wings. If the two towers are nixed, as has been discussed, the infrastructure would have to go elsewhere on the site. That could create new delays, drive up costs and potentially send the entire project back to the drawing board after eight years. The $20 million contingency plan is designed to avoid that by crafting cost-effective solutions. The actual price of carrying out those changes, like redesigning Hub supports and rerouting utilities, is still unknown. "I wouldn't want to characterize how much it will cost, but obviously, there will be costs to it," Ward said. Silverstein executives declined to comment. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

In reversal, FDA approves use of Plan B, ‘Morning After’ pill, for use by 17-year-old girls

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reversing former policy, will now let 17-year-old girls get the 'morning-after' birth control pill without a doctor's prescription, a government health official said Wednesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agency will announce that it is complying with a federal judge's order that overturned a Bush administration policy. The official was not authorized to speak publicly before the FDA announcement, expected later Wednesday. Last month, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled in a New York lawsuit that Bush administration appointees let politics, not science, drive their decision to allow over-the-counter access to these pills only for women 18 and older. Korman ordered the agency to let 17-year-olds get the medication, and separately to evaluate whether all age restrictions should be lifted. Plan B is emergency contraception that contains a high dose of birth control drugs and will not interfere with an established pregnancy. Religious conservatives say it is the equivalent of an abortion pill because it can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. The battle over access to Plan B has dragged on for the better part of a decade, through the tenures of three FDA commissioners. Among many in the medical community, it came to symbolize the decline of science at the agency. Top FDA managers refused to go along with the recommendations of scientific staff and outside advisers that the drug be made available over-the-counter with no age restrictions. "The FDA got caught up in a saga; it got caught up in a drama," said Susan Wood, who served as the agency's top women's health official and resigned in 2005 over delays in issuing a decision. "This issue served as a clear example of the agency being taken off track, and it highlighted the problems FDA was facing in many other areas." If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, Plan B can reduce a woman's chances of Continue Reading

MORNING-AFTER PILL GOES OVER COUNTER. But must be older than 18 to buy Plan B, sez FDA

AFTER TAKING three years - and a beating from New York Sen. Hillary Clinton - the FDA approved over-the-counter sales of the morning-after contraceptive pill for adults yesterday. But in an unusual compromise after a highly politicized approval process, the FDA is requiring users younger than 18 to get a prescription for the drug, called Plan B, and to show proof of age. "It is an important step forward," Clinton said in a conference call with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The senators had blocked the nomination of acting FDA boss Andy Von Eschenbach because of the dispute over the drug, which had stalled for years, even after the FDA's own experts recommended over-the-counter sales. Clinton and Murray said they would now let Eschenbach's nomination proceed. The New York Democrat said the FDA's reputation had been on the line. "Not only Americans, but really people around the world look to the FDA," she said. "They need to be able to trust that the agency is not being politicized and acting on ideology instead of evidence." Some of President Bush's conservative allies equate Plan B with abortion - even though the drug does not end a pregnancy - and contend it will promote promiscuity. The drug must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. It delivers a high dose of hormones that prevent an egg from becoming fertilized or, if that's already happened, stop it from implanting in the uterus. Plan B should be available nationwide by the end of the year, said its manufacturer, Barr Pharmaceuticals. Advocates had pushed for unrestricted access, arguing it would cut by half the 3 million unplanned pregnancies each year in the U.S. Some 850,000 of those are in teens. "By allowing the over-the-counter sale of Plan B, more women will now be able to prevent unintended pregnancies. Yet it is extremely disappointing that age restrictions will create medically unjustified barriers for teens," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation. Continue Reading