Saturday, October 06, 2007

Plan B, Pharmacists And You

When it comes to information about Plan B it seems news stories go out of their way to confuse you.

Reuters reports on the FDA's statement that the agency is considering creating a new category of drugs that would be available without prescription at drugstores, but only after consultation with a pharmacist; the so-called "behind-the-counter" (BTC) drug category.

A consultation with the pharmacist means the pharmacist screens you and decides if it's appropriate for you to use the drug, and he/she consents and counsels you about the drug.

The article points out that [o]nly a few behind-the-counter drugs, such as Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc's Plan B birth control drug, are now sold in the United States.

Using Plan B as an example of a BTC drug is borderline misleading and confusing.


If you're 18 and older, Plan B is OTC. A consultation with a pharmacist is not required to obtain Plan B. All you need to do is show proof of age to the counter person. The pharmacist has no say in your decision to use Plan B. The pharmacy personnel's only role is to card you in order to enforce the [capricious] age restriction decreed by the FDA.

If you are 17 and younger, Plan B is Rx only (see exception below). You also don't need to consult with a pharmacist to get the drug. All you have to do is present a script. Again, the pharmacist has no say in your decision to use Plan B. His/Her role is to fill a valid Rx.


Under certain circumstances Plan B is actually BTC. If you are 17 and younger and live in California, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, or Montana, depending on the pharmacy, Plan B is BTC. You don't need a Rx to obtain Plan B but you do need to consult with a pharmacist. The pharmacist is the one who decides if it's appropriate for you to use the drug.

People who need to use Plan B, a very safe and effective drug, already have to navigate a formidable obstacle course. Between the FDA, where ideology guides drug regulation, unscrupulous pharmacists who steal prescriptions and refuse to sell the drug, incompetent politicians intent on legislating fact and reason out of existence, and the relentless and vicious propaganda of assorted religionists and perfect strangers, misinformation and confusion about Plan B reign supreme.

The least news organizations can do, when it comes to stories about Plan B, is make sure the information they provide is accurate and, as important, that it's presented in a clear manner.

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