CVS Pharmacy offered a mea culpa Thursday after a pharmacist denied the sale of the morning-after pill to Isaac Kurtz of Houston. The pharmacist told Kurtz she was acting on "personal belief" and not store policy.
"She tells me she needs to speak with the woman," Kurtz told the Houston Press. "I'm taken aback by this and ask her what she needs to talk to her about. I bought them here before without issue. She then tells me she won't sell it to me."
CVS store policy does not prohibit men from buy the morning-after pill, and under federal law, anyone over the age of 17 can buy Plan B without a prescription.
"We apologize for the isolated incident in our Houston pharmacy in which a male customer was unable to purchase this item," CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis said in a statement. "We are following up on the pharmacy staff to ensure that our policies are properly followed to prevent a recurrence of this incident."
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration deemed Plan B One-Step a safe and effective nonprescription medication for all women of childbearing years. The decision would have allowed the product to be available over-the-counter to people of all ages, but, in an unprecedented move, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blocked the pill from hitting drug store shelves.
"Last week's decision added confusion to Plan B," said Susan Wood, director of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health in Washington D.C. "It made people think there was a safety issue or it somehow affected younger teens' desire to participate in risky sexual behavior. Of course, neither of those are true, and those who don't know all the information now have misinformation."
Because Plan B is not sold on store shelves, Woods said pharmacists end up acting as gatekeepers for the product.
"It's so important that this product be compared to other products like condoms, tampons and pregnancy tests," said Wood. "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. This would be better than having a gatekeeper who may not approve or understand the reason for providing it to the customer."