Study: Some Pharmacists Mislead Teens in Need of Plan B Emergency Contraception

Study: Some Pharmacists Mislead Teens in Need of Plan B Emergency Contraception

Whether people like it or not, teenagers have sex. But (and this may not come as a surprise to many), when things get messy, teenagers may not be able to get the morning-after pill as easily as one might assume.

A recent study published in the medical journal Pediatrics shows that we might need to give our local laws regarding access to the pill a once-over.

In 2009, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that anyone older than 17 can get the pill without a prescription, and that has been worked into law by most states. Despite this, some pharmacies across the country either won't have the pill in stock or will even go so far as to mislead pill-eligible men and women because they aren't aware of their states' Plan B policy.

In a study led by Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, researchers called 943 pharmacies (chains and independent) in Nashville, Tenn., Philadelphia, Cleveland, Austin and Portland posing as either a 17-year-old girl or the doctor of one in need.

The study estimated 80 percent of the pharmacies stocked Plan B, but of those pharmacies nearly 20 percent of callers were told they couldn't get the medication due to their age. On top of that, nearly a third of pharmacies failed to suggest or provide an alternate way for them to get the pill, making it difficult to get the help callers needed.

What's even more alarming about this study's results is that only 60 percent of the pharmacists questioned knew what the minimum age was for over the counter access to the pill. The majority thought that only older women could obtain Plan B without a prescription.

"If you don't give the right information or you're not willing to have a discussion about how to help get the medication, the adolescent might just give up," Dr. Wilkinson told Reuters Health.

The long and short of what this study shows is that some pharmacists need to read up on what their state law allows when it comes to Plan B. If not, then could have a hefty lawsuit on their hands.

Upcoming Events

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >