Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The nation's pharmacists will bein the hot seat when Plan B emergencycontraceptives become availablewithout a prescription forwomen 18 and over. After years ofwrestling with the political and scientificissues surrounding the controversialdrug, the FDA has agreedto allow Barr Laboratories' Duramedsubsidiary to begin marketing PlanB over the counter on a restrictedbasis. Women under 18, however,will continue to require a prescriptionfor the "morning-after" pill, andpharmacists will be responsible forverifying the ages of all patientsseeking the OTC version of the drug.

Under the approach approved bythe FDA, Plan B will be availableonly through licensed pharmacies,and pharmacists will be expected tokeep the drug behind the counter.Barr also agreed to monitor pharmaciststo ensure that they areenforcing the age restriction.

Despite the added liability, pharmacyleaders welcomed the newresponsibilities for pharmacists."Pharmacists are uniquely positionedto help manage access toemergency contraception underthis unique approach," officials atthe American Pharmacists Association(APhA) said.

APhA added, however, that pharmacistswho have ethical or religiousobjections to the use of emergencycontraception should not be requiredto dispense Plan B. "Duringthe implementation phase of PlanB's change to OTC status, it will beimportant for employers?to developsystems that support a pharmacist'sability to opt out of workingwith emergency contraception,while providing a timely alternativefor consumers," the association said.

Visit ePharmacy Times at for a related storyon Plan B.