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Survey Finds Most Suffolk County Pharmacies Stock Emergency Contraception

Survey Finds Most Suffolk County Pharmacies Stock Emergency Contraception

March 20, 2007

Hawthorne, NY — Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic (PPHP) and the New York Civil Liberties Union-Suffolk Reproductive Health Rights Committee (NYCLU-Suffolk) released a list of preferred pharmacies created as a result of an extensive survey of 266 Suffolk County pharmacies with regard to the provision of Plan B emergency contraception (EC). The survey results reveal that Suffolk County women can obtain Plan B EC with relative ease throughout the county.

“We are very pleased to find that the majority of pharmacies in Suffolk County are stocking Plan B,” said Reina Schiffrin, President/CEO, PPHP. “Timely access to EC is critical and women should not have to face any obstacles at the pharmacy counter.”

Planned Parenthood only supports those pharmacies that have a policy to stock emergency contraception on demand and ensure patients’ access to emergency contraception in-store, without discrimination or delay. Based on this policy, only those pharmacies (187) that had EC in-store at the time of the call made it on our Preferred Pharmacy List. To view the list, visit www.pphp.org.

In August 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B EC as a non-prescription medication for women 18 years of age and older. Women 17 years of age and younger still need to obtain a prescription from a health care provider.

The purpose of the census, conducted by phone in December 2006, was to better understand Suffolk women’s access to EC. Virtually every town in the County has a pharmacy stocking Plan B, and the staffs at these pharmacies appear knowledgeable and professional when asked about Plan B over the phone. However, there is a sizeable minority of pharmacies that, in December 2006, only had the prescription Plan B available and insisted that only the prescription label was available, despite the fact that Barr Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Plan B, started shipping Plan B with an over-the-counter label in early November 2006. The stores on the preferred pharmacy list had Plan B in stock as an over-the-counter product.

The biggest barrier to increased use of Plan B is that people do not know about it or the timely nature of the medication. Two pharmacies contacted during this study commented that the reason they were not stocking Plan B is that they were not aware of any consumer demand for the product.

“Both pharmacists and consumers must receive more education and outreach in order to become the best possible advocates for women seeking access to Plan B,” said Dolores Bilges, NYCLU Suffolk Chapter Director. “Consumers must continue to ask their local pharmacies to carry Plan B so that women in their areas can access it in a timely manner.”

Emergency contraception is a safe and effective back-up birth control method that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. When taken within the first few days of unprotected intercourse, EC can reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 89 percent, but it is more effective the sooner it is used after unprotected sex.

 

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