Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jacksonville Women's Access to Emergency Contraception

A study published in the journal Contraception reports findings when Jacksonville, FL pharmacies were contacted by women inquiring about emergency contraception availability. "Secret shoppers" contacted >100 pharmacies in Jacksonville, FL in person and via the phone. A list of all Jacksonville pharmacies was generated using the phone book and an online search, and pharmacies that were out of business or compounding-only were excluded.

Four female OB/GYN residents served as secret shoppers and visited 54 of the pharmacies on various days and times at their convenience. Inquiries were made as to the availability of Plan B, and other options if it was not immediately available. The shoppers recorded their interactions and responses to their questions immediately upon leaving the pharmacies. Phone calls were also made to 131 pharmacies (48 of which were also visited in person). The researchers considered Plan B to be "available" if it could be provided that day or within 24 hours.

Findings:
  • Of 54 visited pharmacies, Plan B was: available immediately at 21 (39%); available in <24 hours at 16 (29%); not available in <24 hours at 17 (31%).
  • Of 131 pharmacies successfully phoned, Plan B was: available immediately at 42 (32%); available in <24 hours at 33 (25%); not available in <24 hours at 58 (44%).
  • 48 pharmacies were both called and visited, and consistent responses were received from 34 (71%) of these. 29% of these pharmacies gave inconsistent responses, such as stating on the phone that Plan B was available, but stating in person that it was not.
  • 11 pharmacies suggested other stores more likely to carry Plan B. It is not clear whether pharmacy staff verified this prior to sending the "patient" away.
  • 9 chain pharmacies were represented in the sample. Target was the only chain pharmacy to have Plan B in stock in all (7) of its Jacksonville stores. KMart, Pavilion, and SavRite did not have Plan B in stock in any of their Jacksonville stores. CVS had Plan B in stock in only 2 of 20 stores. No chain pharmacy staff members reported company policy as the reason for not stocking the drug, and some did not know why it was not in stock.
  • "The reasons most commonly cited by pharmacists for not carrying Plan B were lack of demand and short expiration time. Three pharmacists cited personal beliefs as the reason for not carrying or dispensing Plan B. None of the pharmacists cited store policy as the reason for not carrying the medication."

    Citation: French AC, Kaunitz AM. Pharmacy access to emergency hormonal contraception in Jacksonville, FL: a secret shopper survey. Contraception. 2007 Feb;75(2):126-30. Abstract

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    MeSH Tags: Contraception, Postcoital; Health Services Accessibility; Time Factors
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