Emergency contraception (EC), sometimes called “the morning-after pill,” is birth control that significantly reduces the chances of becoming pregnant if taken soon after sex. It may prevent a pregnancy before it occurs. It has no effect on an existing pregnancy.
Emergency contraception is safe and effective, and works best when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Most types of EC can work up to three days after sex, and some prescription products can be taken up to five days after sex.
Most forms of emergency contraception are available on pharmacy shelves, without a prescription, to anyone of any age. However, anti-choice groups have long run a coordinated misinformation campaign to confuse people about EC—with one false claim being that it causes abortion. Emergency contraception does not cause abortion, but many remain confused about the difference between EC and medication abortion.
It’s important for every woman to understand her options for emergency contraception before she needs it. That’s one of the reasons why doctors should talk with women about EC at their annual checkup.
Everyone should have access to emergency contraception when they need it, without judgment or delay.
Full OTC access is still not a reality in 2017
We contributed to the newly published national survey conducted by ASEC to learn if retail stores were following the law and best practice recommendations to stocking and dispensing emergency contraception (EC). Unfortunately, we found there are still substantial barriers to accessing EC over-the-counter (OTC), even four years after the US Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B One-Step® for OTC sale. Key findings include:
- A majority of the stores in this sample (60%) stock EC on the shelf (vs 65% in 2015)…but 40% do not
- Among stores that stock EC on the shelf
- 57% lock the product in a case or box that must be unlocked by a store employee (vs 71% in 2015)
- 30% of stores still impose an age restriction to purchase EC (vs 39% in 2015)
- The average price of Plan B One-Step® is $49 and generics cost about $39…no change since 2014
- Independent pharmacies are far less likely to stock EC on the shelf and far more likely to impose an age restriction than chain pharmacies.
Read the full report to learn more: 2017 OTC EC Access Study
Download the latest “EC 101” card produced by Nursing Students for Sexual and Reproductive Health and the American Society for Emergency Contraception. One side includes some basic information about the EC methods available in the US, and the other has ideas about how to be an advocate for EC.
This includes information on billing insurance and Medicaid (Even for OTC!) and the Oregon Board of Pharmacy’s Position Statement on the Moral and Ethical Objections for guidance on developing written policies and procedures that address pharmacists’ moral, ethical, and professional responsibilities.
- Jan. 2017 : CONTRACEPTION Effect of BMI and body weight on pregnancy rates with LNG as emergency contraception: analysis of four WHO HRP studies
- June 2016: American Society for Emergency Contraception EFFICACY OF EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION AND BODY WEIGHT: Current Understanding and Recommendations
- 2016 ACOG Committee on Practice Bulletins: Gynecology- Emergency Contraception
2015: We contributed to the national survey conducted by ASEC to learn if retail stores were following the law and best practice recommendations to stocking and dispensing EC.
Findings in Brief:
- A majority of the stores in this sample (64%) stock EC on the shelf (vs 49% in 2014)
- Among stores that do stock EC on the shelf, 46% lock the product in a case or box that must be unlocked by a store employee (vs 63% in 2014)
- For 67% of participants, finding EC in the store was somewhat/very easy (vs 50% in 2014)
- 39% of stores impose an age restriction to purchase EC
- The average price of Plan B One-Step® is almost $50 and one-dose generics cost about $40 (no change compared with 2014)
- While there are improvements in some areas compared to the 2014 EC Access Report, full OTC access is not yet a reality
2013: Letter campaign to almost 700 pharmacists across the state to educate about the importance of Emergency Contraception (EC) and to inform of the Oregon Contraceptive Care (CCare) funding program that helps women cover the cost of EC and other birth control methods. We also let pharmacists know that they can bill the Oregon Health Plan for over-the-counter EC for women, getting this time-sensitive medication to women in a more timely manner!
2005: OFRH launched the Emergency Contraception Access project to increase women’s pharmacy access to emergency contraception in rural areas. The three pronged project focused on pharmacist; primary care provider education and consumer education. Emergency Contraception Access Project to improve awareness of and access to emergency contraception throughout Oregon. As a result of this project:
- Secured a Board of Pharmacy policy that requires seamless pharmacy access to emergency contraception
o Considering Moral and Ethical Objections: Oregon pharmacists cannot interfere with a patient’s lawfully and appropriately prescribed drug therapy or request for drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for restricted distribution by pharmacies.
- Trained over 400 pharmacists in rural Oregon on EC 101
- Increased the number of rural pharmacies stocking and dispensing EC by 40%.
- Improved the accuracy of pharmacist EC knowledge and education by 75%.