Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Study Examines Emergency Contraception Availability

A study in the current issue [April 2006; 73(4): 382-385 - view the abstract] of the journal Contraception surveyed 186 pharmacies who agreed to participate (out of 204 contacted) with regards to the availability of emergency contraception. The pharmacies were located in the northeastern region of Pennsylvania and consisted of 93 in urban counties and 93 in rural counties. 54% of those sampled were nationally recognized chain stores. The pharmacists who agreed to participate were asked about whether emergency contraceptives were in stock (and if not, why), type of EC in stock, price for uninsured patients, and accessibility (weekend hours, etc.).

Among the reported results:
  • "Out of the 186 participating pharmacies, only 60 (32%) pharmacies had EC in stock. Whether pharmacies carried EC in stock did not significantly differ by urban vs. rural location (30% vs. 34%, p=.64) or by chain vs. nonchain designation (33% vs. 32%, p=.63)."
  • "Pharmacies stocking EC were most likely to carry Plan B® only (77%), with 12% stocking Preven® only and 12% stocking both Plan B® and Preven®. "
  • "The median cost of Plan B® and Preven® for uninsured clients was $33 and $30, respectively, which did not significantly differ between urban and rural pharmacies."
  • "Of the pharmacies stocking EC, urban pharmacies were significantly more likely than rural pharmacies to be open after 6 p.m. on weeknights (93% vs. 63%, p=.01). Rural pharmacies were less likely to have store hours on both weekend days, but the difference was not significant (63% vs. 44%, p=.19)."
  • Of pharmacies not stocking EC, the reasons cited were as follows: no perceived need (61%); don't know (12%); against store policy (9%); against personal beliefs (8%); do not know what EC is (3%); temporarily out of stock (3%); other (4%). This result suggests that women may need to be more vocal in informing pharmacies of the need for available emergency contraception, given that "no perceived need" was the most popular rationale for not stocking the drug.

    The results also include information on what the pharmacist would tell patients if EC was not in stock, with many stating they would tell the woman to go to another pharmacy. Somewhat shockingly, "Other responses included 'we don't carry it because we are a prolife store' and 'we would tell her to have the baby.'"

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    MeSH Tags: Contraception, Postcoital; Levonorgestrel
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