To discover if there are barriers for accessing over-the-counter emergency contraception. If barriers exist, to determine if those barriers vary based on the gender of the person making the purchasing request.METHODS:
Richmond, VA pharmacies listed as Plan B One Step® suppliers were interviewed via phone by both male and female callers. Eight standardized script questions regarding emergency contraception were asked including availability, age restrictions, parental consent, counseling requirements, and gender restrictions for purchase. The statistical data was analyzed using Fisher's exact test.RESULTS:
Pharmacy employees provided incorrect information to both men and women regarding age restrictions for purchasing Plan B One Step® 51% of the time. There was no statistical difference based on the gender of the caller. Only one of the 153 pharmacies polled by our male consumer would have denied a male from purchasing Plan B One Step® (P=.127). Both male and female callers were given correct information, as a whole, regarding the lack of need for parental consent and in-store counseling at the time of purchase. Males were 21 times as likely (P=.001) to have been transferred upon calling the pharmacy to another employee when asking “Can I get Plan B One Step®” compared to females, of whom none were transferred.CONCLUSION:
Men and women requesting Plan B One Step® received incorrect information in one half of phone encounters. Given the inconsistent data provided to the public regarding emergency contraception, clinicians are obligated to convey accurate, up-to-date information to patients about over-the-counter contraceptive options.