Happy Birthday OTC Emergency Contraception – Join the Pill Patrol
One year ago today, the FDA approved over-the-counter access to emergency contraception for women 18 and older, after a years-long process that had more to do with politics than science. According to this Reuters piece, sales have jumped from $40 million/year under the prescription-only status to estimates of $60-$80 million for 2007.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richardson attributed the jump to more women knowing about the drug. Similarly, several pharmacy chains have made it policy to stock the drug, and access is now somewhat easier than seeking out a doctor’s appointment and prescription for this time-sensitive product. Not surprisingly, opponents of expanded access have expressed their concerns – “Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, a group that opposed Plan B sales without a doctor’s order, said ‘minors may be obtaining it without a prescription or some women may be using it more than once.'” Somehow I doubt that a few minors managing to get Plan B or some women using it “more than once” would account for a near doubling of sales over one year.
Despite over-the-counter availability, not all pharmacies stock the drug, and not all pharmacy staff are adequately informed about or willing to dispense Plan B. To that end, Planned Parenthood has launched the Pill Patrol campaign, in which women can sign up online to serve as secret shoppers, calling or visiting a nearby pharmacy and reporting back on whether the pharmacy will provide the drug.
Update: RHRealityCheck, which usually has more good stuff than I can link to in a day, has more on the “Plan B will turn girls into sluts” mythos. The (presumably male, named Andy) President of the University of Alabama College Republicans reportedly called Plan B “the same thing as putting a gun to a child’s head.” Right. There are no words.