Some pharmacists to keep 'Plan B' behind counter - WKRN News 2

Some pharmacists to keep 'Plan B' behind counter despite new requirements

Posted: Updated: June 12, 2013 05:33 PM
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Some pharmacists plan to continue keeping an emergency contraceptive behind the counter, or not carry it at all, despite an expected easing of the purchase requirements.

A federal judge is expected to issue a ruling that will allow girls of all ages to buy PlanB One-Step, more commonly known as "the morning after pill", without a prescription and age verification on pharmacy shelves in front of the counter.

The judge's ruling could come in the next few days. 

On Monday, the Justice Department decided to place a hold on a previously filed appeal to a judge's ruling to lift the age and prescription requirement for PlanB One Step.

The drug is said to reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 89% if taken within 72 hours of failure of other contraceptive measures or unprotected sex. 

The drug will not terminate an existing pregnancy.

Currently, women 16-years-old and younger must have a prescription to buy the drug.

Women 17-years-old and older do not need a prescription, but they do have to show proof of their age before purchasing the drug.

Under the new proposed regulations, women would be able to purchase the drug at any age without a prescription or age verification.

Age restrictions on the sale of the drug were the focus of a federal lawsuit the Justice Department was involved in after the Food and Drug Administration decided to lower non-prescription required age to 15-years-old.

The Department of Justice notified U.S. District Judge Edward Korman earlier this week it had decided to reverse course and comply with his order to make morning-after pills available to buyers of any age without prescriptions.

Lawyers for women's rights advocates argued in a letter to the judge Wednesday the plan falls short because it limits the unrestricted sales to the more expensive Plan B one-pill version of the drug.

They said the judge ruled the two-pill version must be available as well.

The government has said it will withdraw an appeal of the judge's order if he agrees with its plan. It's unclear when he'll address the issue.

Some pharmacists like Shawn Pruitt Sr. Pharm. D. said they will continue to keep the pill behind their counter, which is their prerogative.

Customers would still not have to show a prescription or proof of age to legally purchase the medication.

"The thing I want to offer my customers is choice, non-opinionated and non-judgmental care," he said. "I want my patients to have access to it if they are age appropriate."

Dr. Pruitt is owner of Pruitt Discount Pharmacy on Dickerson Pike in East Nashville.

As the owner, it is his choice on where he stocks the medication or if he stocks it at all.

"It causes an issue with accountability and making young people responsible for their actions," he said.

Dr. Pruitt said allowing customers to buy the emergency contraceptive without a consultation with a pharmacist can be dangerous because not all customers are aware of the uses, limitations and side effects caused by the drug.

"Some young people and even adults can get the misconception that this also prevents me from getting any sexually transmitted diseases when it does not," he said. "They also think it can terminate a pregnancy and I have had to explain that this must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse."

After the judge's ruling, it is expected to take several weeks for the PlanB One-Step pill to be available without prescription because the manufacture will have to repackage the product and stores will have to decide how they plan to display the merchandise.

Some may decide to lock the product up; others could sell it on the shelves in the women's health section or keep it behind a counter.

Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee expressed their support of easing the age and prescription restrictions tied to the PlanB One-Step.

"This is a major turning point for access to birth control and a huge development for women's health. It will help many more women prevent unintended pregnancy," President and CEO Jeff Teague said. "As always, Planned Parenthood encourages and supports parents in their efforts to protect their teens' sexual health and to guide young people toward responsible decisions, including delaying sex until they are prepared."

Wednesday evening, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Middle Tennessee said it is a major turning point for access to birth control and a huge development for women's health.

*The Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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