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EC OTC: It Might Not Be What You Think

Posted by Ryan Morgan on September 13, 2013 at 1:04 PM
Amy HollemanBy: Amy Holleman One of the many important things Tell Them does is educating us, and they are creative and smart enough to make learning a lot of fun. Current example of fun learning (and teaching, too!): #SCECOTC Scavenger Hunt. Now, I am a sucker for a good challenge, and I am pretty passionate about women’s reproductive health, so I could not resist an emergency contraception scavenger hunt, and I hope you will decide to join in, too. In my naïve state, I assumed that all pharmacies would have Plan B sitting all pretty out on the shelves beside the condoms and pregnancy tests. It’s available over-the-counter and without any age restrictions, so why wouldn’t it be? Well, I am here to admit to you right now, and let’s just keep this part between us because I do not like to say the following words ever, I was wrong. Wrong! Me? What? Yes, I couldn’t believe it either! Even worse, I assumed that pharmacy staff would know a little more than they do about EC, and I was wrong about that, too! Wrong twice? Me? Get out of here! I also learned that some pharmacists out there are incredibly cool and that some pharmacies get creative. Here are some examples of the good, the bad, the creative, and the ugly:
  • • Walgreens pretty much rocks in the good and the creative department. The Lexington location on Highway 378 had quite a few boxes in stock right out in the open, no security boxes, nothing to deter you from buying.
  • • Walgreens in Five Points earned some creativity points in my book because, while they keep their (huge supply) of Plan B behind the pharmacy counter due to high theft rate, they also keep some locked in the perfume counter in their cosmetics section because they realize the whole “emergency” part of emergency contraception may mean that you need to drop by when the pharmacy is closed and pick up a box.
  • • Publix on North Lake at Irmo Drive keeps the Plan B behind the counter. When I asked the pharmacist why, she told me it was because all pharmacies do, and used the Walgreens in Ballentine as an example. I was able to whip out my handy-dandy phone and show her that the Ballentine Walgreens had that business out on the shelves. She said that she would talk to management about the possibility of them doing the same. I love people who are willing to change things in a direction that I like.
  • • Sam’s Club on Harbison Boulevard… oh, well, it was tragic. My beau and I stopped while out running errands. The pharmacy not only has the most expensive prices I have seen on Plan B, which was shocking to me because I tend to think of Wal-Mart and Sam’s as having better prices, but, also, two people behind the pharmacy counter told me that you must have a prescription to buy EC if you are under seventeen! The good news is that they let you buy just one box not a whole case. (Silver lining?) I was sure to let them know that people under seventeen can buy it now without a prescription, and they did say they would look into it. They were nice people even if their policy stinks.
  • • EC gets stolen a lot. Pharmacies that can, keep it out, but they mostly always have to keep them locked up in large plastic boxes that will set off the alarms if someone tries to lift it. The stuff is expensive! Some pharmacies carry generic versions, Rite Aid often has cards for the generic right next to the name brand, and those are less expensive. If Plan B is a bit pricey for you, ask if a generic is available. I was happy to learn that.
  The scavenger hunt continues until October 1. I hope you guys will join me and others as we learn more about how accessible EC is and is not in SC. It's a lot of fun, and the pharmacies take notice when we ask them the how much, where do you keep it, and why do you keep it that way questions. Amy is a native of Columbia and USC graduate. She is passionate about equality for all humans, and she believes it is extremely important that women have the education, tools, and access they need in order to make the best choices for themselves, their bodies, and their families.

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