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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Nov;199(5):478.e1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2008.04.032. Epub 2008 Jun 13.

Behind-the-counter status and availability of emergency contraception.

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  • 1Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



The objective of the study was to determine whether the 2006 Food and Drug Administration approval of Plan B for behind-the-counter status increased availability.


We conducted a survey in 2005 and 2007 of pharmacies listed in Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, and Philadelphia, PA. We measured ability to dispense Plan B within 24 hours. Also measured were reasons for lack of availability and cost of Plan B.


Pharmacists were interviewed at 1087 pharmacies (75% response rate) in 2005 and 795 pharmacies (82% response rate) in 2007. In 2007, 8% of pharmacies were unable to provide Plan B within 24 hours, compared with 23% of pharmacies in 2005 (P < .001). The total refusal rate in 2007 was half the rate of 2005 (2% vs 4%, P = .004). The average cost of Plan B was $43.


Availability of Plan B in Atlanta and Philadelphia increased after it was awarded behind-the-counter status.

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