Emergency Contraception, Plan B, is now available for on-the-shelf purchase at most drug stores.

Plan B One-Step is a form of emergency contraception after unprotected sex or birth control failure. It is the back-up, the “plan B,” to preventing pregnancy.

According to the company website, planbonestep.com, the product is the first FDA-approved emergency contraceptive available over-the-counter for anyone who needs it, and it is now on the shelves of many pharmacies all over the country.

“It is now accessible to anyone,” said Katie Ramus, director of community relations at Planned Parenthood.

Before, customers under the age of 18 needed a prescription from their doctor to purchase the contraceptive, and women who were legal adults could purchase it at the pharmacy. Now, it is sitting on the shelf right next to the popular Trojan brand of condoms. Customers, men or women, can buy the product without giving the pharmacist his or her birth date.

“I think this has removed a lot of the stigma around purchasing it,” Plattsburgh Rite Aid Pharmacist Whitney Lepier said.

The tablet contains levonorgestrel, which is a hormone that has been used in many birth control pills on the market for several decades, according to their website. The hormone is present at a higher level than the daily pill, but works in a similar fashion by stopping a female egg from being released from the ovary, preventing fertilization or preventing attachment to the uterus. Using the product within three days of birth control failure can reduce the chance of pregnancy.

“I still get a lot of questions if the product is something the customer isn’t familiar with,” Lepier said. “Sometimes they come to me with questions regarding how to take it, time limitations and things like that.”

Planbonestep.com reads the sooner the contraceptive is taken, the more effective it is. “Seven out of every eight women who would have gotten pregnant, will not become pregnant.”

“It is great to see that it is on the shelves,” Ramus said. “If people don’t have health care or don’t have a lot of money, this is so much easier for them because it is easy for people to go to their local drugstore and not have to worry about getting a prescription beforehand.”

Even though a prescription isn’t needed, it shouldn’t replace regular methods of birth control because it isn’t as effective. It also doesn’t protect from sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Also, the tablet works to prevent only one incident.

If the consumer is already pregnant, there is no medical evidence that it would harm a developing fetus.

“It removes that middle man of having to ask [a doctor] for it,” Lepier. “Often times, someone comes in for it and they come straight back here, and I tell them it’s on the shelf now. They just grab it and go.”

Plattsburgh State junior Saleha Hossain, a student the gender and women’s studies department, said she thinks this move should have been made sooner than it was, believing it will have a positive impact on teen pregnancy. She claims there is a new level of privacy in being able to grab another form of contraceptives from the shelf, rather than going to the pharmacy desk, making it quick and more convenient for teens.

“I like the idea of teens being able to buy Plan B without waiting for consent,” she said. “Although I don’t encourage young teens to participate in unsafe sex, things happen.”

Email Lisa Scivolette at lisa.scivolette@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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