Some NYC pharmacists blocking Plan B sales to males

September 12, 2014

One in five males were unable to buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B in several New York City pharmacies, according to a study published in the journal Contraception.

One in five males were unable to buy the emergency contraceptive Plan B in several New York City pharmacies, according to a study published in the journal Contraception.

According to the study, the males (ages 19, 25, and 28) were part of a mystery shopper experiment conducted by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center. The men told the pharmacy employees that they needed to buy Plan B because of condom failure, but 20% of the men were unable to make purchases in the NYC neighborhoods of Washington Heights, East Harlem, and the Upper East Side.

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Even when the men were able to purchase Plan B, that purchase was made difficult by nearly 75% of the pharmacies, the study said. Specifically, 30 of the 158 pharmacies did not sell to the men; others required the presence of a female or an ID card from one.

Dr. David Bell, an associate professor at Columbia University Medical Center, told the New York Daily News that pharmacies may have wanted a woman present to make sure they were following age restriction laws that were in effect when the experiment was done.

Previously, Plan B was only available by prescription, and only to women 17 and older. Those restrictions are no longer in place.

Bell speculated that some pharmacists may oppose emergency contraception, may object to it being purchased by men, or may think a women’s presence signals her approval of the purchase.

The study said one pharmacist incorrectly told a customer that Plan B would cause an abortion or miscarriage and another wrongly claimed it would lead to birth defects.