There is a new form of medical known as Plan B One Step from Teva Pharmaceuticals. This is a highly potent contraceptive pill which is some circles is known as the “morning after pill” as it is intended to be taken in the day (or days) following sex. The Plan B One Step pill is intended ideally to be taken the next morning if a woman is doubtful whether the sex was protected.
Confusion can arise about her risk of pregnancy if she doubts that her regular contraceptive pill was effective (perhaps she misread the instructions on its effectiveness—from day one when takes when bleeding starts, but only within 1-2 weeks if a course of pills is taken later). Problems can also arise with someone who experienced using a condom that split open during intercourse or who did not use a condom or contraceptive and only stopped intercourse right before climax. In these situations, and others, a morning after pill may be advisable to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
The Plan B One Step pill was recently approved by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department for over the counter sales. However, there is a great deal of confusion because the FDA approved the drug for sale also. There is some discrepancy because of this, which has created much confusion for pharmacies and consumers alike.
Plan B is intended as an emergency contraceptive to be taken to urgently avoid pregnancy. While it can be taken the same day as intercourse occurred, it can be taken the next day or even up to three days later. However, the later a woman takes Plan B, the less effective it will be. For this very reason, confusion with pharmacists as to to whom can be sold this vital medical can cause delays or prevent obtaining the drug and ultimately unwanted pregnancies.
The rules clearly state that Plan B is to be offered by pharmacists, over the counter, from than from stock shelves on the sales floor. A consumer must come up to the dispensing counter and specifically ask for the product by name or as “emergency contraceptive”. Contrary to what many believe, both women and men have permission to purchase the Plan B medication over the counter, if they are 17 years of age or older. If a woman is younger than 17, then she will require a written medical prescription from her doctor.
Live Science research (http://www.livescience.com/18108-pharmacies-respond-inaccurately-teens-seeking-contraception.html) discovered when calling around to a number of pharmacies that up to 44% of pharmacies did not correctly understand the information in the above paragraph. Oddly, pharmacies in the poorest neighborhood – which coincidentally usually have the highest rate of teen pregnancies – exhibited the highest occurrence of incorrect responses.
Depending on the pharmacy store – and this can even vary per pharmacist on shift at the moment of purchase – pharmacists were often confused about whether a prescription was needed and at what age it was needed, the correct age one could legally sell the Plan B medication without prescription and whether a man was permitted to purchase emergency contraceptive medication at all.
ABCNews discovered a man in Houston, Texas who was declined when he visited the CVS Pharmacy chain to purchase the Plan B contraceptive for his partner who asked him to visit the pharmacy for her. He was incorrectly informed that the pharmacist needed to consult with the woman before the drug could be sold. This was in direct contravention of the rules laid down by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department under federal law.
This situation is not an isolated incident either. It is important that those that require Plan B understand that they have a legal right to its purchase if they are 17 or over, or have a prescription.