What Your Pharmacy Needs to Know About Plan B Legislation
Recently passed legislation makes the Plan B emergency contraception drug (levonorgestrel) available over the counter without an age restriction placed on it. Based on a letter sent to the court by the drug’s manufacturer on June 10, the FDA will approve a request from Teva Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step, for the subsequent removal of any sales restrictions on the drug. This does not affect generic versions of the pill, and Teva Pharmaceuticals will maintain a monopoly on the market for Plan B as long as the generic producers of the drug neglect to file their own restriction-lifting documents with the federal court system. These requests may be blocked by the FDA, which will further Teva Pharmaceutical’s singularity in the market for the time being. There are no current plans to remove the restrictions on the two-pill versions available of Plan B, with creators citing dosage timing concerns, among others.
Once these new procedures go into effect, it is the right of the pharmacy to decide if they wish to sell Plan B out in their aisles, or keep it stored securely behind the counter. Given that Plan-B’s pricing can range upwards of $50, without a security device attached to its packaging, a secure location is best for storing the drug. Having a placard or hanging set of tags in place is a way that customers can purchase the drug, taking the card to the counter where the pharmacists on duty will obtain and dispense the medication to the customer.
Pharmacists are not required to sell Plan B to patients if it contradicts with their religious or personal beliefs; however, they must refer customers to another pharmacist currently working–or if alone, suggest a nearby pharmacy at which customers may pick up their Plan B medication. Chain pharmacy CVS has stated that their pharmacists which are unwilling to sell Plan B will be given reasonable accommodations to allow for both customer and employee satisfaction when handling the transaction. Many pharmacies are still attempting to reconcile how to proceed regarding sales of Plan B given the lifted restrictions, and all should be alert for any changes to their company policies in the coming weeks. If a pharmacist is unsure about how their religious or personal beliefs may impact their ability to sell Plan B, suggest they speak with their supervisor.
Many advocates of Plan B are pleased with the President’s ruling, but cite that the prescription’s high cost may prevent low income women from accessing it. They will seek to campaign so that the restrictions will be lifted from all forms of emergency contraceptive. Making available more affordable brands of levonorgestrel will ensure that all who need the product have access to it in the future. The lifting of these restrictions is a step in the right direction for many individuals who may need to access levonorgestrel, but due to its heavy restrictions were unable to. How is your pharmacy proceeding in light of the lifted restrictions on Plan-B?