Dolphin: 1 in 5 Pharmacies Lie to Teens About Morning-After Pill

07 Health

Plan B: 1 in 5 Pharmacists May Deny Eligible Teens Access to Emergency Contraception

Seventeen-year-olds can legally buy Plan B over the counter at the drugstore, but nearly 20% of pharmacists incorrectly deny them access.

Maria Szalavitz

TIME, 26 March 2012

About 1 in 5 pharmacies incorrectly denies teen girls access to emergency contraception (EC), or the “morning after pill,” according to a new study.

Posing as either 17-year-old girls or doctors seeking Plan B emergency contraception for their 17-year-old patients, researchers from Boston University called 943 drugstores — every pharmacy listed in five major U.S. cities. Eighty percent of the pharmacies said they stocked the drug.

By law, teenagers aged 17 and older can buy Plan B over the counter, but 19% of pharmacists told teenage callers they could not purchase it because of their age. Three percent of doctors were similarly told emergency contraception could not be given to 17-year-olds.

When asked whether they knew the legal age for Plan B access, only 57% of pharmacy employees answered correctly to teens; 61% answered correctly to doctors. Not surprisingly, teens were twice as likely as physicians to wait on hold, and four times less likely to be connected to a pharmacist to answer their questions.

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Phi Beta Iota:  This is a superb example of a) useful academic research; b) the importance of truth in the lives of so many; and c) the degree to which the pharmaceutical industry fails to meet professional standards in serving the most vulnerable.