A new study brings in focus a matter that might come as a shock. Apparently across the United States 1 in 5 pharmacies hinder access to the morning after pill to eligible teenagers. And that’s not all. Even physicians were given misinformation regarding the availability of this particular emergency contraception.
Research assistants with the Boston University have undertaken a study to see exactly how pharmacies have implemented and abided by the Food and Drug Administration’s Plan B. The program is intended to give access to emergency contraceptives without prescription (Plan B One-Step and Next Choice) to all women over 17 years.
However the research showed that some pharmacies did not abide by Plan B and hindered access to it by giving out misinformation. Two female research assistants with the study have talked with commercial pharmacies across five big cities in an attempt to find out whether or not emergency contraception was available.
Authors explains that “1 in 5 adolescents who pone pharmacies looking for EC are told they cannot obtain it under any circumstances and that nearly half of all adolescents and physicians are told an erroneously high age for EC access without prescription”.
When the pharmacy confirmed they had emergency contraception on stock, the researches followed up with the question: “If I’m 17, is that okay?”, From this point on, pharmacies’ answers changed. Out of all the pharmacy employees the female researchers talked to about 19 percent said contraception isn’t available for women age 17.
Then two weeks later, the researchers called the same pharmacies again, this time posing as physicians asking about emergency contraception. When they asked for the emergency contraception on behalf of their fictional 17 year old patients, only three percent of the inquired pharmacies said it was not available.
Tracey Wilkinson, M.D. and lead author of the study at hand, said: It’s important that adolescents get the correct information the first time. This highlights some of the barriers that adolescents face when accessing emergency contraception”.
Although it is not clear whether or not pharmacies’ employees have deliberately refused teenagers’ access to Plan B, researchers point out that “emergency contraception was pretty available, in that 80 percent had it on the shelf that day”.