Morning-After Birth Control Pill Now Available In Bay Area Store Aisles

The morning-after pill is now available in store aisles—no prescription or identification required.
The pill, Plan B-One Step, is an emergency contraceptive that the Food and Drug Administration has approved to be available to anyone as of today.

Before the FDA dropped restrictions in June, there were age limits and the drug was confined behind the counter where a pharmacist had to hand over the pill at a customer’s request.

Now customers, including those 17 years old and younger, can purchase the drug, and anyone can simply get it from a drugstore or store shelf.

Lupe Rodriguez, spokeswoman for San Jose-based Planned Parenthood Mar Monte region, expressed excitement about the changes that she says will expand access to this type of birth control.

“This will make it so much easier for young people, for all women, to go to a drugstore and pick it up as soon as they need,” she said.

She said before the restrictions were dropped there were barriers that prevented women and teens from using the drug during a useful period.

Detractors to the policy change have cited worries about young girls having access to the drug.

“Our thought is that young people are able to use this medication in a safe and responsible manner,” Rodriguez said.

The drug does not prevent STDs or abort a pregnancy.

The pill contains levonorgestrel, which is a synthetic hormone that helps prevent pregnancy. It is intended to be used within 72 hours after unprotected sex to be most effective.

It costs about $50, but it usually can be obtained at Planned Parenthood health centers with an appointment at no cost or on a sliding scale.

Walgreens stores have moved the product from behind the counter to shelves in the “family planning” aisle.

Store spokeswoman Emily Hartig said under the new guidelines, the product will be available over the counter in all its stores except in Oklahoma.

She said a state law there keeps Plan B in the pharmacy and women over 17 must have a prescription. It cannot be sold to customers under age 17 without a prescription.

The drug is available at other pharmacies in the Bay Area and elsewhere including CVS, Safeway and Costco pharmacies, and other independent retailers.

The pill is produced by Israel-based company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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