The opinion of the court was delivered by: Korman, J.
Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that can be used to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy after sexual intercourse. When used as directed, it can reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent. Plan B acts mainly by stopping the release of an egg from an ovary. It may also prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg that has been released or, if fertilization has already occurred, block implantation of the resulting embryo in the uterus. Plan B does not have any known serious or long-term side effects, though it may have some mild and short-term side effects, such as nausea or abdominal pain, in some users. The approved dosage of Plan B is two pills taken 12 hours apart, each containing 0.75 mg of levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone similar to the naturally occurring hormone progesterone. Because the drug works best when taken within 24 hours of sexual intercourse, it is commonly referred to as a "morning-after pill." Nevertheless, the drug is effective if the first dose is taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.
Studies have shown that Plan B is equally effective if the two doses of levonorgestrel are taken less than 12 hours apart or at the same time.
Plan B was approved for prescription-only use in the United States in 1999 and is the only emergency contraceptive drug currently available in the United States. Plan B and other emergency contraceptives with the same active ingredient are available without a prescription or age restriction in much of the world, including virtually all major industrialized nations. Plaintiffs -- individuals and organizations advocating wider distribution of and access to emergency contraceptives, as well as parents and their minor children seeking access to the same -- brought this action challenging the denial of a Citizen Petition, which requested that the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") make Plan B available without a prescription to women of all ages.
The FDA considered the Citizen Petition in tandem with a number of proposals -- referred to as supplemental new drug applications ("SNDA") -- submitted by Women's Capital Corporation, the drug's original manufacturer. Women's Capital Corporation sold its right to market Plan B to Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. during the course of the proceedings described below. I refer to them collectively as the "Plan B sponsor." The first SNDA, like the Citizen Petition, sought non-prescription access to Plan B for women of all ages. After the FDA denied such access, the Plan B sponsor submitted a second SNDA, seeking non-prescription access for women 16 and older. The FDA rejected that application too despite nearly uniform agreement among FDA scientific review staff that women of all ages could use Plan B without a prescription safely and effectively. The Plan B sponsor then submitted a third SNDA, which proposed making Plan B available without a prescription to women 17 and older. While FDA scientists and senior officials found that 17 year olds could use Plan B safely without a prescription, the FDA Commissioner determined that, because of "enforcement" concerns, Plan B would be available without a prescription only to women 18 and older. Putting aside for the moment the specifics of the many claims brought by plaintiffs and the details of each of the FDA's decisions, the gravamen of plaintiffs' claims is that the FDA's decisions regarding Plan B -- on the Citizen Petition and the SNDAs -- were arbitrary and capricious because they were not the result of reasoned and good faith agency decision-making.
Plaintiffs are right. The FDA repeatedly and unreasonably delayed issuing a decision on Plan B for suspect reasons and, on two occasions, only took action on Plan B to facilitate confirmation of Acting FDA Commissioners, whose confirmation hearings had been held up due to these repeated delays. The first occasion involved the confirmation of then-Acting FDA Commissioner Lester M. Crawford, who froze the review process for seven months in 2005. In order to overcome a hold that had been placed on his nomination by two Senators, the Secretary of Health and Human Services promised that the FDA would act on Plan B by September 2005. After Dr. Crawford was confirmed by the Senate in July 2005, however, he reneged on the promise and, instead, delayed action another eleven months to pursue, and then abandon, a rulemaking with respect to Plan B. There is also evidence that when the FDA finally decided to approve non-prescription use of Plan B for women 18 and older, it did so to facilitate the confirmation of Commissioner Crawford's successor, then-Acting FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, whose confirmation certain Senators had vowed to block because of the continued delays on Plan B.
These political considerations, delays, and implausible justifications for decision-making are not the only evidence of a lack of good faith and reasoned agency decision-making. Indeed, the record is clear that the FDA's course of conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug product from prescription to non-prescription use, referred to as a "switch application" or an "over-the-counter switch." For example, FDA upper management, including the Commissioner, wrested control over the decision-making on Plan B from staff that normally would issue the final decision on an over-the-counter switch application; the FDA's denial of non-prescription access without age restriction went against the recommendation of a committee of experts it had empanelled to advise it on Plan B; and the Commissioner -- at the behest of political actors -- decided to deny non-prescription access to women 16 and younger before FDA scientific review staff had completed their reviews.
In light of this evidence, the FDA's denial of the Citizen Petition is vacated and the matter is remanded to the FDA for reconsideration of whether to approve Plan B for over-the-counter status without age or point-of-sale restrictions. While the FDA is free, on remand, to exercise its expertise and discretion regarding the proper disposition of the Citizen Petition, no useful purpose would be served by continuing to deprive 17 year olds access to Plan B without a prescription. Indeed, the record shows that FDA officials and staff both agreed that 17 years olds can use Plan B safely without a prescription. The FDA's justification for this age restriction, that pharmacists would be unable to enforce the prescription requirement if the cutoff were age 17, rather than 18, lacks all credibility.
I now proceed to outline the statutory and regulatory framework for the FDA's consideration of over-the-counter switch applications in general, detail the FDA's evaluations of and decisions regarding Plan B, and recount the procedural history of this action. I then turn to the merits of plaintiffs' claim that the FDA's denial of the Plan B was arbitrary and capricious.
A. Statutory and Regulatory Background
Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act ("FDCA"), 21 U.S.C. §§ 301 et seq., no new drug product may be sold in the United States unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary") first approves a new drug application ("NDA") submitted by the drug's sponsor. Id. § 355. The Secretary delegated primary responsibility over drug regulation to the Commissioner of the FDA ("Commissioner"). Id. § 393(d). As part of the NDA, the drug sponsor must submit, inter alia, "full reports of investigations which have been made to show whether or not such drug is safe for use and whether such drug is effective in use" to the FDA. Id. § 355(b)(1)(A). An NDA will be denied if "the investigations . . . do not include adequate tests by all methods reasonably applicable to show whether or not such drug is safe for use under the conditions prescribed, recommended, or suggested in the proposed labeling thereof," "the results of such tests show that such drug is unsafe for use under such conditions or do not show that such drug is safe for use under such conditions," or there is "insufficient information to determine whether such drug is safe for use under such conditions." Id. §§ 355(d)(1), (2), (4).
A drug must be dispensed by prescription if, "because of its toxicity or other potentiality for harmful effect, or the method of its use, or the collateral measures necessary to its use, [it] is not safe for use except under the supervision of a practitioner licensed by law to administer such drug." Id. § 353(b)(1)(A). A drug may be moved from prescription-only to non-prescription status when the Secretary deems that the prescription requirement is not necessary for the protection of the public health. Id. § 353(b)(3). Specifically, the applicable regulation provides that:
Any drug limited to prescription use . . . shall be exempted from prescription-dispensing requirements when the Commissioner finds such requirements are not necessary for the protection of the public health by reason of the drug's toxicity or other potentiality for harmful effect, or the method of its use, or the collateral measures necessary to its use, and he finds that the drug is safe and effective for use in self-medication as directed in proposed labeling.
21 C.F.R. § 310.200(b). Many new drugs are initially approved for prescription-only status and then later considered for non-prescription status, i.e., an over-the-counter or OTC switch. A drug is suitable for OTC use when found to be safe and effective for self-administration and when its labeling clearly provides directions for safe use and warnings regarding unsafe use, side effects, and adverse reactions. See id. § 330.10(a)(4). These regulations were promulgated following the adoption of the Durham-Humphrey Amendment to the FDCA in 1951. The amendment was intended, in part, "to relieve retail pharmacists and the public from burdensome and unnecessary restrictions on the dispensing of drugs that are safe for use without the supervision of a physician." S. Rep. No. 82-946 (1951), as reprinted in 1951 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2454, 2454; H.R. Rep. No. 82-700 at 2454 (1951).
There are two means by which the FDA can switch a prescription-only drug to non-prescription status. First, it can promulgate a regulation changing the drug's status. See 21 U.S.C. § 353(b)(3). This rulemaking process may be initiated by the Commissioner, 21 C.F.R. § 310.200(b), or by any interested person who files a citizen petition. Id. § 10.25(a). Within 180 days of receipt of the petition, the Commissioner must either approve or deny the petition or provide "a tentative response [to the petitioner], indicating why the agency has been unable to reach a decision on the petition." Id. § 10.30(e)(2)(iii). Alternatively, a drug sponsor may request an over-the-counter switch. Id. § 310.200(b). Unlike the first mechanism, this process does not require rulemaking. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 355(c), (d); 21 C.F.R. § 314.71. Nevertheless, only the drug sponsor can supplement its initial new drug application. 21 C.F.R. § 314.71(a).
All of the rules and procedures applicable to new drug applications, discussed above, apply to supplemental new drug applications (SNDAs). Id. § 314.71(c).
The Commissioner delegated authority over OTC switch applications to the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research ("CDER"). FDA Staff Manual Guidelines ("SMG") 1410.30(1), 1410.104(1). OTC switch applications are reviewed by two offices within CDER: the Office of Drug Evaluation ("ODE") V, which reviews all OTC switch applications, and, in this case, the ODE III, which includes the Division of Reproductive and Urologic Drug Products ("DRUDP"). CDER may seek scientific advice from outside experts by empanelling an advisory committee to provide a recommendation on an application. After reviewing the OTC switch application and the advice of the advisory committee, the directors of the two ODEs make a decision. If the Director of CDER disagrees with that decision, the Director may change the decision. Pls.' Ex. B at 9 (General Accountability Office, Food and Drug Administration: Decision Process to Deny Initial Application for Over-the-Counter Marketing of the Emergency Contraceptive Drug Plan B Was Unusual, GAO Doc. No. GAO-06-109 (November 2005), hereinafter "GAO Report").
In February 1997, the FDA announced that certain combined oral contraceptives are safe and effective for emergency use, and requested sponsors to submit new drug applications for that use. On July 28, 1999, the FDA approved an NDA for Plan B submitted by the Plan B sponsor. Plan B then became available to consumers in the United States on a prescription-only basis.
1. Filing of the Citizen Petition and First OTC Switch Application
On February 14, 2001, one of the named plaintiffs, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals ("ARHP"), and sixty-five other organizations (together the "petitioners") filed a Citizen Petition, asking the FDA to switch Plan B, and all emergency contraceptives like it, from prescription-only to over-the-counter status without age or point-of-sale restrictions. The petition included affidavits from Dr. David Grimes, the chair of the World Health Organization task force that had conducted the largest and most definitive trials on Plan B to date, and Dr. Elizabeth Raymond, who conducted the label comprehension and actual use studies which the Plan B sponsor would ultimately submit in support of its SNDA. Numerous national organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association, endorsed the petition. Def.'s Ex. 1 at CP020-28.
Upon receipt of the Citizen Petition in February 2001, the FDA noted that (1) "[t]he petition clearly outlines how . . . Plan B meet[s] all the criteria for OTC availability," (2) the statements in the petition "are supported by scientific data and the cited literature," and (3) "DRUDP [Division of Reproductive and Urologic Drug Products] agrees with much of the scientific information presented in the supporting statements." Def.'s Ex. 3 at T-30004. Nevertheless, Dr. Andrea Leonard-Segal of the Division of the Over-the-Counter Drug Products ("DOTCDP"), who reviewed the Citizen Petition in April 2001, identified a number of safety concerns which needed evaluation through an actual use study. Id. at Tummino ("T") 30023. Among these concerns were whether consumers would use emergency contraception instead of more effective forms of birth control, whether adolescent girls could comprehend and use emergency contraception, and whether the availability of emergency contraception would dissuade consumers from being tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Segal noted that the sponsor of Plan B "expressed a willingness to work with the Agency to address the concerns" raised by the petition. Id.
On September 6, 2001, the FDA advised the petitioners that it had not yet resolved the issues raised in the Citizen Petition, but that it would respond "as soon as we have reached a decision on your request." Def.'s Ex. 1 at CP029. The FDA did not respond for nearly five more years, when it announced, on June 9, 2006, that it had denied the petition. Id. at CP001-19. During this period, however, the FDA communicated regularly with the Plan B sponsor about its anticipated SNDA. Indeed, in February 2001, shortly before the Citizen Petition had been filed, FDA staff met with the Plan B sponsor to discuss a development plan for an over-the-counter switch application, including the details for a proposed actual use study and label comprehension study. Def.'s Ex. 3. at T-30005-17. Specifically, the FDA made a number of recommendations regarding the age composition of participants in a proposed actual use study and the importance of enrolling young adolescents. The sponsor indicated that it would seek to enroll at least 50 participants aged 17 years of age or younger. Id. at T-30047. The FDA did not disapprove of this figure or recommend a larger number. See id. at T-30254. Indeed, in subsequent meetings prior to the filing of the SNDA, FDA staff assured the sponsor that the actual use study, the study the FDA considered "pivotal" to the application, "appear[ed] to be adequate for filing." Id. Moreover, as early as April 2002, the FDA informed the Plan B sponsor that results from trials in the adult population could be extrapolated to the postmenarcheal pediatric population. Pls.' Ex. F-1 at T-30100. The Director of the Office of New Drugs ("OND"), Dr. John K. Jenkins, noted that "the Agency has a long history of extrapolating findings from clinical trials in older patients to adolescents." Pls.' Ex. A-3 at T-30898.
On April 21, 2003, over two years after it had begun discussions with the FDA, the Plan B sponsor submitted an SNDA formally requesting that Plan B be switched from prescription-only to OTC status without age or point-of-sale restriction. On June 9, 2003, the FDA accepted the SNDA for review and set a goal date of February 20, 2004 to render a decision on the application. Def.'s Ex. 3 at T-30284.
2. Review of First OTC Switch Application: OTC Access Without Age Restriction
As discussed above, while the Plan B sponsor did not formally submit the SNDA until April 2003, the FDA was aware of and anticipated the application well in advance. Indeed, at an Office of the Commissioner's meeting in June 2002, FDA officials -- including then Deputy Commissioner Dr. Lester Crawford -- and review staff discussed the "political sensitivity" of a potential switch to OTC status for Plan B. Pls.' Ex. A-1 at T-30167. These discussions regarding the political implications of the switch applications were not limited to intra-agency meetings: On the very same day that the Plan B sponsor first formally requested OTC status, then-FDA Commissioner Dr. Mark McClellan discussed the pending application with Jay Lefkowitz, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy at the White House. Id. at T-509. Commissioner McClellan testified that he had provided several updates on the Plan B application to relevant policy staff at the White House. Pls.' Ex. D-2 at McClellan Dep. 140:19-141:13.
Moreover, deposition testimony of several FDA senior staff members reveals that political and ideological factors played a determinative role in the nomination and selection process for membership on the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs, which, along with the Advisory Committee for Nonprescription Drugs (together the "Advisory Committee"), was empanelled by the FDA to make recommendations as to how the FDA should respond to the OTC switch applications. See 68 Fed. Reg. 66113 (Nov. 25, 2003).
The common procedure for selecting members of such committees was for the offices and divisions within CDER to "put together a panel of nominees and send those up [to the Office of the Commissioner] for clearance. [However, i]n this case names were sent down." Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Houn Dep. 30:16-18; Pls.' Ex. D-2 at Kweder Dep. 37:16-20. According to Dr. Jenkins, "[i]t wasn't as if names were being floated for internal vetting. These names were being sent down as these are new people who will be on the Committee." Pls.' Ex. D-2 at Jenkins Dep. 258:12-15. The Deputy Director of the Office of New Drugs (OND), Dr. Sandra Kweder, who had been involved in the formation of many advisory committees, id. at Kweder Dep. 37:12-15, testified that the Office of the Commissioner appointed several individuals to the committee "who would [not] normally [be] considered as the kind of people we would be looking for to be on the panel." Id. at 35:3-5. These people had "very limited experience in product development, clinical trials. They were not well-published." Id. at 35:8-10; Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Houn Dep. 31:13-15, 39:13-40:4. Dr. Florence Houn, Director of the ODE III, testified that the individuals appointed by the Office of the Commissioner did not have "[e]xpertise recognized on a regional or national level or specialty field that would help our deliberations." Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Houn Dep. 39:1-3.
The Office of the Commissioner appointed members to the Advisory Committee not for their expertise, but to achieve what the Office of the Commissioner called a "balance of opinion" on the panel. Pls.' Ex. D-2 at Kweder Dep. 30:2-22. Indeed, Dr. Kweder testified that the Commissioner's office rejected many qualified nominees proposed by CDER in favor of individuals who shared a common ideological viewpoint. Id. at 30:4-21, 28:16-29:3. Specifically, "the backgrounds of many of the candidates that were forwarded [by the Commissioner's office] . . . had an ideological commonality. . . . They were . . . people who were very active in the Right to Life antiabortion world." Id. at 37:4-6, 8-10. According to Dr. Kweder, the CDER is "not . . . looking for people who have an opinion coming in [to their participation on the committee]. That's exactly what we don't want. We want people who can look at what's before them and render an assessment and recommendation on the basis of that." Id. at 30:13-18.
In preparation for the Advisory Committee meeting, which would consider whether to recommend approval of the Plan B sponsor's switch applications, review staff met with and informed Commissioner McClellan that "[t]he results of the AUS [actual use study] demonstrated that the frequency of unprotected sex did not increase, condom use did not decrease, and the overall use of effective contraception did not decrease [with use of Plan B]." Def.'s Ex. 3 at T-30394. Staff noted that while only 5 percent of subjects recruited for the actual use study were in the 16 and younger age group, the Plan B sponsor supplemented the actual use study data with reports and behavioral studies from the medical literature. Id. These studies enrolled more than 1,000 subjects ages 16 and younger, Pls.' Ex. A-3 at T-30868; Pls.' A-2 at T-30809, and lent further support to a finding that young adolescents can use Plan B safely in an OTC setting.
On December 16, 2003, the Advisory Committee voted 23 to 4 in favor of the recommendation to approve Plan B for over-the-counter status without age or point-of-sale restrictions. Def.'s Ex. 2 at T-10792; it voted unanimously that Plan B is safe for use in a non-prescription setting, and voted 27 to 1 that the actual use study data submitted by the Plan B sponsor could be generalized to the overall population of potential non-prescription users of Plan B, i.e., data from older age groups could be extrapolated to younger ones. Id. at T-10754. Only a few panel members raised questions concerning the quality of the supporting data regarding young adolescent use and possible substitution of Plan B for other forms of contraception. See id. at T-10753-56, 10763-67, 10776-78, 10789, 10792. And, significantly, at least two of those raising such concerns appear to have been appointed by the Commissioner's office to achieve ideological balance on the panel. See Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Houn Dep. 33:19-35:20.
While the Advisory Committee does not have the final say regarding the OTC switch applications, the FDA has followed advisory committee recommendations in every OTC switch application in the last decade: Of the 23 OTC switch applications reviewed by advisory committees from 1994 to 2004, the Plan B over-the-counter switch application was the only one that was not approved after the joint committee voted to recommend its approval. See Pls.' Ex. B, GAO Report at 1-4, 34-35. A meeting in late December 2003 or early January 2004 sheds light on the reasons for this departure from the FDA's decision-making process.
During that meeting, Dr. Woodcock, Acting Deputy Commissioner, and Dr. Steven Galson, Acting Director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), told their subordinates, Drs. Jenkins and Kweder, "that Plan B could not be approved on this round," Pls.' Ex. D-2 at Kweder Dep. 45:6-7, and that the decision was to be made at the level of CDER Director or at the Commissioner's level. Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Jenkins Dep. 17:9-11, 18:16-17. This was a departure from usual FDA procedures because under the its "normal schema" a switch to OTC of a first in class drug, such as Plan B, would be handled at the Office Director level and would not require approval or sign off by the Commissioner's office. Id. at 16:9-21. Moreover, they were told that the White House had been involved in the decision on Plan B. Dr. Kweder testified that Dr. Woodcock had told her at that meeting that:
Dr. McClellan had [not] made [the decision] on his own but . . . the White House was involved . . . we were told, and that it was made very clear that there were a lot of constituents who would be very unhappy with . . . an over-the-counter Plan B, and . . . [there] was part of the public that needed to have the message that we were taking adolescents and reproductive issues seriously.
Pls.' Ex. D-2 at Kweder Dep. 56:18-57:4; Pls.' Reply Ex. 4 at Kweder Dep. 72:20-73:4.
Moreover, the pressure coming from the White House appears to have been transmitted down by the Commissioner's office in such a way as to significantly affect Dr. Galson's position on the over-the-counter switch application. While Dr. Galson would ultimately concur with Commissioner McClellan's decision and sign the Not-Approvable letter in May 2004, Dr. Jenkins testified that during the time that we were reviewing the Application before we went to the Advisory Committee, I never had any indication from either Dr. Woodcock or Dr. Galson that they felt that the product should not be available over the counter without age restriction, so nothing in their communications with me ever led me to think that they were thinking that this should not be approved or should not be available.
Pls.' Reply Ex. 4 at Jenkins Dep. 231:18-232:4. Dr. Jenkins further testified that "[o]ver the course of the time after [this] lunch meeting" and subsequent meetings with review staff and the Commissioner "there were occasions where . . . Dr. Galson . . . told me that he felt that he didn't have a choice, and . . . that he wasn't sure that he would be allowed to remain as Center Director if he didn't agree with the [Not-Approvable] Action." Id. at 232:5-17; see also Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Jenkins Dep. 51:2-8. Dr. Jenkins' testimony is corroborated by the deposition testimony of Dr. Susan Wood, then-Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director of the FDA Office of Women's Health. Dr. Wood testified that Dr. Galson conveyed that "he felt that he would not be able to work with the leadership of the Agency in an effective manner if [the Not-Approvable] letter . . . did not go through." Pls.' Reply Ex. 4 at Wood Dep. 24:13-16.
Nevertheless, FDA review staff continued their "first review cycle" for the OTC switch application submitted by the Plan B sponsor. On January 9, 2004, Dr. Curtis Rosebraugh, Deputy Director of the Division of OTC Drugs, recommended approval of the application submitted by the Plan B sponsor, concluding that Plan B has a "low misuse and abuse potential" and is "safe and effective." Pls.' Ex. F-1 at T-30454. Moreover, he suggested that Plan B could decrease unwanted teen pregnancy by up to 70 percent and reduce teen abortions. Id. at T-30455.
On January 15, 2004, less than a week after Rosebraugh circulated his memorandum, and before other FDA offices had completed their respective reviews, Dr. Galson met with and informed members of the ODE III, ODE V and OND that the Commissioner's office had decided that the FDA would issue a Not-Approvable letter because of a lack of adequate data to support appropriate use of Plan B by adolescents under 16. Def.'s Ex. 3 at T-30666-70; Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Houn Dep. 21:7-12. There is evidence that Commissioner McClellan made this decision before FDA staff had completed their scientific reviews of that data. See Pls.' Ex. B, GAO Report at 21-22. Indeed, Dr. Houn testified that it was "very unusual" that Dr. Galson had informed review staff at the January 15, 2004 meeting that the data was insufficient because we had not finished the evaluation process, and we were in the middle of getting data on the question of adolescent use of emergency contraception. So if we were to continue an evidence-based approach, we would hope to have all of the evidence in hand before an evaluation and decision was made.
Pls.' Ex. D-1 at Houn Dep. 22:3-9. This testimony is corroborated by Dr. Jenkins' deposition testimony:
[F]or the Commissioner to convey through Dr. Galson a definitive opinion on the Application and an Action before the reviews were completed and before it had gone up through the subsequent levels of the organization is something I've never encountered before.
Id. at Jenkins Dep. 33:12-17; see also id. at 29:7-19. The timing of the Commissioner's decision is particularly striking in light of Dr. Galson acknowledgment, at the January 15 meeting, that additional data, which Dr. Galson and the Commissioner were not familiar with, existed on the use of Plan B in adolescent girls in that age group. Def.'s Ex. 3 at T-30666-70. Indeed, as part of its OTC switch application, the Plan B ...