Study Finds Pharmacies Misleading Plan B Buyers

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-12_40575c01a7.jpgdiego cervo/Thinkstock (LOS ANGELES) -- Before this year, Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill, was only available to females 17 and older without a prescription before a federal judge ordered removal of all age restrictions. However, a study by Tracy Wilkinson, M.D., a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, reveals that some pharmacies were giving many girls under 17 a difficult time even if they were carrying a prescription from their doctors.

According to Wilkinson, the girls told her stories of druggists refusing to fill the prescription, confiscating the "scripts" or denying one had been electronically sent. Under the law, pharmacies can refuse to sell contraceptives for religious reasons. However, they cannot disperse wrong information or refuse to tell a person where they can get birth control.

In an experiment, Wilkinson had volunteers posing as 17-year-olds call pharmacies in Nashville, Tenn.; Philadelphia; Cleveland; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Ore., to ask basic questions about Plan B, which prevents pregnancies from 24 to 72 hours after unprotected sex.

The study discovered that 20 percent of pharmacies told volunteers who identified themselves as 17 that they couldn't get the morning-after pill at all, which is against the law.

Meanwhile, of the remaining pharmacies, only half informed the callers about the correct age requirement.

There were occasions when the druggists mentioned their ethical opposition to selling birth control, which is a legitimate right.  However, many also gave out false information, such as having a parent or guardian present to buy Plan B.

Now, even with the relaxed rules, Cora Collette Breuner, M.D., a pediatrician who was not part of the study, sees that up to as many as 80 percent of pharmacies continue to have age restrictions listed for Plan B, which is "against the law."

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