Published Online: Wednesday, August 1, 2007

An anonymous survey of retail pharmacists in North Carolina uncovered interesting facts about pharmacists' knowledge of the emergency contraception (EC) Plan B and about its availability.

The survey, conducted by the NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Foundation, sampled 33% of the 1897 pharmacies listed in the state's board of pharmacy. Of the 583 pharmacies surveyed, 49.1% were in urban counties and 50.9% were in rural areas. The survey found:

? Nearly 25% of the pharmacists surveyed stated that EC was the same as the abortion pill, with nearly 5% stating that EC caused an abortion

  • Nearly one third of pharmacists surveyed were unaware that EC is effective up to 72 hours after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure
  • 11% of pharmacists surveyed would require a prescription for all women seeking EC
  • Only 57% of the rural pharmacies had EC in stock at the time of the survey
  • Quoted prices for EC differed significantly from $20 up to $500
  • Among pharmacies that did not stock EC at the time of the survey, approximately 30% refused to order it
  • Nearly 87% of pharmacies required some form of identification, with several requesting a signature

"These results demonstrate both a lack of knowledge and access to EC in North Carolina pharmacies, particularly in rural areas. Women who wish to access EC after unprotected intercourse face many barriers, including inaccurate information and lack of availability. These findings reveal the need for continued education about EC and improved access to this time-sensitive medication," concluded the report.

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