Availability of emergency contraception after its deregulation from prescription-only status: a survey of Ontario pharmacies

Dunn, Sheila; Brown, Thomas E. R.; Alldred, Jason
February 2008
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;2/12/2008, Vol. 178 Issue 4, p423
Academic Journal
In 2005 the emergency contraception formulation of levonorgestrel (Plan B) became available in Ontario pharmacies without a prescription. We surveyed 239 pharmacies 1 month before the regulatory change and 14–17 months after the change to determine whether availability of the drug increased. The response rates were 79% and 70% before and after the change in status. The proportion of pharmacies that had an in-stock supply of Plan B increased from 78% to 92% (p < 0.001). After the regulatory change, 87% of the surveyed pharmacies (95% confidence interval 82%–92%) reported that they had the drug in stock and were willing to dispense it behind the counter. Availability was similar for urban and rural pharmacies, but rural pharmacies had more restricted hours (e.g., 15% closed on weekends). Thus, as a result of the regulatory change, emergency contraception is more widely available, but access in rural areas is still limited by restricted pharmacy hours.


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