• prochoicegrandma

    Fabulous article, Kirsten Moore!  


    I feel it is important to keep pointing out the lame excuse that Kathleen Sebelius used to overrule the FDA, that young girls might not “understand the label and use the product appropriately”. Here is the Plan B label instruction:   

    “Take the first tablet as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The sooner you take the first tablet, the more effective Plan B will be. Take the second tablet 12 hours later.”



    ETA:  If a girl age 11-16 is unable to understand these simple directions, then she certainly would not be able to understand “What To Expect When You’re Expecting”!

  • sschoice

    Back about ten years ago, around the time EC was first made available OTC through PREVEN and Plan B, there was a lot of attention given to certification and training programs to both help pharmacists act as a bridge between OTC access to EC and related care that women, especially teens, would need.  But we haven’t heard much about certification in recent years. 

    Did these certification programs that — to us anyway — seemed to give significant attention to n educating pharmacists on how to talk with customers about EC and act as a bridge to other providers just disappear when Plan B went OTC, or did they maybe become something like a CME (continuing medical education) program, more about teaching simple facts about forms of EC, like a pharmacist might get from a PDR or package insert?

    We’re asking because it’s not clear if these programs still exist or if they are growing or what, from websites we’ve looked through like the American Pharmacist Association (APhA).   These programs existed  in nine states back in 2006 allowed some pharamcists, at least, to dispense EC OTC to minors, as mentioned in this 2006 statement from the APhA:

    APhA Statement on FDA’s Recent Approval of Plan B for OTC Status

    August 24, 2006


    If we read the press releases and policy statements of other groups like American Public Health Association (a differnet group with the same acronym as the pharmacist group mentioned above), similar support and concern is expressed about minor’s access, but while it is consistently mentioned it is not much emphasized — like in the following article, for example, try searching for the few occurances of the word “age”:

    Ensuring that Individuals are Able to Obtain Contraceptives at Pharmacies

    Policy Date: 11/8/2006


    What is the status of certification programs that help create collaborative agreements with pharmacists who want to dispense EC OTC to minors? 

    If they still exist, are they growing?

    Would they be something that activists could help support to improve OTC access for minors?

  • kirsten-moore

    Thanks for the feedback. As it happens, the product now on the market and the one that would have gone on the shelf has just one pill. The directions basically say ‘take this pill now’. That’s it.

  • sschoice

    I’d have to do some research to say exactly why collaborative agreements were proposed in the first place between pharmacists and doctors to allow OTC dispensing of EC, but I think it was to ensure that pharmacists asked a structured list of questions that noted the last menstrual period of the woman using EC to ensure she wasn’t using EC if she was already pregnant, and ensure the woman using EC would use a pregnancy test after using EC to make sure it was effective, and to detect pregnancy as early as possible if it occured in spite of taking EC.  I don’t think pharmacists participating in these agreements had to refer women to one particular medical provider for questions, but it may have made it much easier to give information and referral to providers for care beyond the woman simply getting EC.

    Collaborative agreements began as an experiment and I think pharmacy boards in different states implemented them differently.  But they were meant to help improve access for all women, including explictly for minors, as the APhA statement said:

    APhA Statement on FDA’s Recent Approval of Plan B for OTC Status

    August 24, 2006


    “In nine states, pharmacists have explicit authority to work with doctors to both prescribe and dispense emergency contraception, so that a patient does not need to visit their physician. When this novel over-the-counter and prescription approach is implemented later this year, women under the age of 18 may go directly to trained pharmacists in those states and, when medically appropriate, receive Plan B directly from the pharmacist. “

    I’m sure I could research this further by calling state pharmacy boards, but does anyone have suggestions for articles or reports on how these programs are doing?  I’ve tried some searches of the APhA website and some related professional organizations and I haven’t found any reports from the last few years, nor any reports of the programs downsizing or disappearing.  I wonder if there may be less interest in them due to Plan B being made available first to women 18 and older, and then 17 and older through that court ruling a couple years ago.  If there is less interest, that’s unfortunate, and it would be seem to be a good idea to encourage participation in these programs.

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