Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smaller Retailers Have No Plan B; Independent Drugstores Aren't Carrying the New Contraceptive

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smaller Retailers Have No Plan B; Independent Drugstores Aren't Carrying the New Contraceptive

Article excerpt


Whether they don't want to see it on shelves because of lack of demand or they don't want it in their stores at all, some independent pharmacies in Northeast Florida aren't stocking the over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pill.

The FDA last summer approved Barr Pharmaceutical's Plan B, a high-dose birth control pill that prevents pregnancy after unplanned or unprotected sex by stopping ovulation. Previously available only with a prescription, the medication started hitting pharmacy shelves nationwide late this fall.

The nation's major chains, including Walgreens and CVS, have promised to carry Plan B in all their stores. But a check of small and family-owned outlets in the Jacksonville metropolitan area showed while most carry prescription birth control, that doesn't necessarily mean they are going to carry Plan B.

Many, particularly those in more rural areas, said they have no plans to get it.

Laura Wigglesworth, who manages Raynor's Pharmacy in Macclenny, said the Baker County store doesn't have Plan B and that if a woman came in looking for the pills, she wouldn't know where to refer her.

"I don't know who in town would stock that," Wigglesworth said.

Not Fernandina Beach's Waas Drug Store in Nassau County.

Pharmacy manager Jimmy Parker said Plan B won't be sold there for religious reasons, though the store does provide regular birth control to women with a prescription.

No one has asked him for emergency contraception yet, Parker said. If they did, he said he'd tell them to contact the Nassau County Health Department. Nurse practitioners there can provide both Plan B and Plan A, a similar form of emergency contraceptive that is available only with a prescription.

Kim Geib, the health department's public health manager, said a check of pharmacies several weeks ago in the county showed none with Plan B in stock yet, but she was surprised some would make that a permanent decision.

If a pharmacy provides any kind of birth control, it shouldn't have a problem with Plan B, she said.

The pill doesn't cause an abortion, Geib said, but instead "slams the brakes on ovulation."

It may also stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Research has not proved conclusively if that is the case.

Commonly called the "morning-after pill," studies have shown Plan B can reduce a woman's chances of pregnancy by 89 percent if taken within a 72-hour window. Under normal circumstances eight in 100 women who have unprotected sex near ovulation may get pregnant, but using Plan B only one would, according to the Office of Population Research at Princeton University.

Women can achieve the same effect taking a larger number of their own birth control pills in the right quantity and at the right time, a step that could see them taking as many as 40 pills over two days, depending on the brand of contraceptive they use. …

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