Emergency Contraceptive Pill Plan B Now Available Without a Prescription in BC

Monday, July 26 2010

Two years after Health Canada approved the use of the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B for sale directly from pharmacies without a prescription, Options for Sexual Health is pleased to hear that the BC College of Pharmacists is now following the federal recommendation.

BC pharmacists have been dispensing Plan B since 2001 as a prescription medication. Until now, though, they have been required to have specialised training to do so, and to consult extensively with the client prior to prescribing and providing the medication.

On Friday May 25th, the BC College of Pharmacists released medical information for its members regarding the change in how Plan B is regulated. Plan B is now a non-prescription product and will be available behind the counter from all pharmacists, like many other medications for which the consumer may need supplementary product information.

Options for Sexual Health (OPT), BC's largest sexual health services provider, hopes that the change will dramatically increase access to Plan B in BC. Consumers will no longer be required to pay the $25 consultation fee pharmacists charged them in addition to the $25 cost for the product, while the drug was still a prescription product. Those who qualify for PharmaCare will now receive an additional price reduction for the product. This will mean that the cost of accessing Plan B will now be brought much more in line with the $15 total cost that OPT has charged in all of its 50 BC clinics since Plan B first became available here.

Plan B will now also be available to individuals who would like to keep emergency contraception at home so that it is readily available for future use, and to men who want to purchase it for their female partners. "We're delighted this product can now be sold to men, as an additional way they can play a role in preventing unplanned pregnancy," says Greg Smith, Executive Director for Options for Sexual Health.

May 25th's change in policy brings this province one step closer to
pregnancy prevention on demand.

Plan B, comprised of the drug Levonorgestrel, can be used by women following unprotected intercourse to reduce the risk of pregnancy by up to 89%. It is most effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected intercourse, but can be used up to five days to prevent pregnancy. Plan B works in one of three ways: preventing the release of an egg from the ovaries; preventing the fertilization of an egg by sperm; or by potentially preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.

For interviews, please contact:

Jessica Peart
Manager, Executive Services
Options for Sexual Health
Media Cell: 604-786-0725
Email: jpeart@optbc.org

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