Poor Teens Lack Access to Emergency Contraception


Susan Wood, director of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health in Washington D.C., told ABCNews.com that emergency contraceptives should be compared to and accessabile as other products like condoms, tampons and pregnancy tests are.

"Some of these might be considered male or female-oriented, but clearly, anyone 17 or older can purchase these products for themselves or someone else," Wood said in December. "This would be better than having a gatekeeper who may not approve or understand the reason for providing it to the customer."

Dr. Diane Harper suggests that pharmacies need to work harder to serve their clients of all ages -- and all income levels -- appropriately. "It is very surprising that the populations at highest risk for unintended pregnancy had the least informed access to emergency contraception," she said. "It is imperative that as we move to a patient-centered medical home-model of health care, that pharmacies be a part of this movement and provide appropriate information about emergency contraception."

U.S. Department of Health Blocks Move to Make Drug More Widely Available

Last February, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the maker of Plan B, received approval from the FDA to sell Plan B over the counter, which would make it available to all consumers regardless of age. The company argued that safety studies that show that women of all ages can take the drug safely and effectively.

But, in an unprecedented decision, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defied the FDA and prevented the drug from becoming available for sale over the counter in December.

Wilkinson said the Department of Health and Human Services' decision to leave block over-the-counter sales of Plan B likely has exacerbated the problem and misinformation continues to run rampant throughout the U.S.

"I hope that this study highlights something that could be changed from multiple different avenues," said Wilkinson. "Not one person or area to blame, but if the FDA is going to leave regulations as they are now, we're going to have to figure out a way to combat this misinformation."

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