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Some Pharmacies Dispensing Contraception Misinformation

PHOTO: It's a highly effective way of preventing unintended pregnancies, but researchers say some pharmacy staff are creating a barrier to Plan B One-Step for teens - by doling out misinformation on its availability. Photo courtesy Teva Women's Health.
PHOTO: It's a highly effective way of preventing unintended pregnancies, but researchers say some pharmacy staff are creating a barrier to Plan B One-Step for teens - by doling out misinformation on its availability. Photo courtesy Teva Women's Health.
March 11, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - It is supposed to be available over the counter for teen girls of all ages, but research published in January found that many still face barriers to obtaining emergency contraception. Pediatrician Tracey Wilkinson, Children's Hospital, Los Angeles, is the lead author of the study. It posed a couple of simple questions to employees at more than 900 pharmacies in five cities across the country.

"We asked 'Do you have emergency contraception' and 'If I'm 17, can I get it?' The most recent study discussed some of our conversations with the pharmacy staff and showed some real glaring problems with access to adolescents when it comes to this medication," Wilkinson said.

Some of the recurring misinformation included pharmacy staff saying a prescription was needed or a parent had to be along with a teen, the physician explained, neither of which is true. In addition, some pharmacy workers said they didn't feel comfortable dispensing emergency contraception, citing personal beliefs.

With the misinformation and barriers, Wilkinson advised all women of reproductive age to get the medication before they need it.

"Know the rules and the laws so that you know what you are entitled to," she advised. "I talk to all my patients about a 'Plan A' for contraception and birth control, and this is really your back-up method. However, you should have your back-up method when you need it and not struggle to get it when you're in a tight situation."

When used correctly, Plan B One Step prevents fertilization and is 95 percent effective in preventing unintended pregnancies if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex.

The complete study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is at http://jama.jamanetwork.com. More information on emergency contraception is available at http//ec.princeton.edu.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO