The emergency contraceptive pill Plan B will now be sold on the front shelves of Canadian pharmacies without any medical consultation after a landmark decision came down Thursday to make the drug more accessible.
In its final ruling, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) has given Plan B, or Levonorgestrel, full over-the-counter status.
Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and India already allow women to go into any pharmacy and purchase the single dose pill without speaking to a pharmacist first.
Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill, contains hormone progestin, the same ingredient as in regular birth control. It has an 89 per cent effective rate of preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. Side effects include nausea and vomiting. One dose costs $30.
“This is a good thing for women.” said Colleen Metge, an associate pharmacy professor at the University of Manitoba. “Women just don’t want to or be forced to discuss their personal lives with a pharmacist.”
There are many good arguments for why this pill should and shouldn’t be available.
- easily accessable
- could prevent an unwanted pregnancy – quickly
- reduces visits to the doctor/emergency care center
- prevents doctors from knowing if a woman is using this method too frequently
- makes having unprotected sex easier or appear that there is no consequences
- some women have been using the drug incorrectly, wanting to use it after the time period it’s most effective or when they missed one contraceptive pill and aren’t at great risk for unwanted pregnancy
This final ruling is effective immediately in all provinces except British Columbia, Quebec and Newfoundland.
In B.C. and Newfoundland, there will be a waiting period of up to three months.
In Quebec, Plan B is still only available with a prescription.