Behind the Counter: A Review of Plan B OTC

In August 2006, the FDA approved Plan B for OTC sale for individuals 18 and older. To commemorate the 1-year anniversary, Pharmacy Access Partnership takes a look back at the last year.

  • Consumers (men and women) 18+ don’t need prescription
  • Women under 18 still need prescription — either from a doctor, clinic or specially trained pharmacist
  • Pharmacy Access remains important health option for all women
  • Pharmacy Access Partnership statement on 1st Anniversary of Plan B OTC.

Read and comment on the Plan B OTC anniversary op-ed in by Belle Taylor-McGhee. Take the MSNBC Plan B survey!


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August 24, 2006: Food and Drug Administration approves Plan B for non-prescription sale for women 18 and older. Good news for consumers 18+; problematic for women ≤ 17 and those w/o proof of age, who still need prescription to get EC.

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October 2006: JAMA article reports more research needed to fully understand Plan B’s mechanisms of action.

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October 2006: California EC Network implores statewide commitment to ensuring EC access for young women, low-income women and women of color.

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November 2006: Pharmacies nationwide begin carrying Plan B packaged for OTC sale; women 17 and younger can still get Plan B via pharmacy access model.

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December 2006: Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide offer free EC.


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January 2007: Select provisions of 2005 Deficit Reduction Act become effective;
low-income women and college students forced to pay more for birth control.

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March 2007: Center for Reproductive Rights files for summary judgment in case against FDA over the agency’s handling of Plan B.

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April 2007: Research reveals advance provision of EC doesn’t lower pregnancy rates, but does increase likelihood of EC use and use sooner after sex.

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June 2007: Access to Birth Control Act introduced in Congress to require all pharmacies to provide birth control, including EC.

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June 2007: Eight states (HI, IL, MA, NJ, NY, OK, OR, WA) confirm Medicaid coverage for Plan B OTC. Medicaid will continue to cover Plan B obtained via prescription — including for women 17 and younger.

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July 2007: Former Attorney General Richard Carmona tells Congressional panel that Bush Administration silenced him on EC and other important public health issues.

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July 2007: Barr Laboratories announces annual Plan B sales are projected to double to $80 million in 2007.

Prepared by Pharmacy Access Partnership, August 2007.

Read Pharmacy Access Partnership’s Access to Plan B Emergency Contraception in an OTC Environment. (PDF-168K) Journal of Nursing Law, 2007; 11(2): 93-100.

Learn more about how to obtain or provide Plan B:

What Consumers Need to Know About Plan B OTC (En Español)
What Pharmacists Need to Know About Plan B OTC (En Español)
EC OTC v. Prescription v. Pharmacy Access Grid
Plan B OTC News

August 21, 2007
Pharmacy Access Partnership Commemorates 1-Year Anniversary of Plan B OTC. Read more

June 25, 2007
New American Medical Association Policy Requests EC Availability Signs in Pharmacies. Read more

May 2007
Pharmacy Access Partnership Paper on Plan B OTC in Journal of Nursing Law. Read more

March 9, 2007
Update on Medi-Cal coverage of Plan B. Read more

February 1, 2007
As of February 1, 2007, New York State will make Plan B OTC available to Medicaid clients without a prescription. Medicaid will continue to cover Plan B obtained via prescription — including for women under 18 years of age. Coverage of Plan B will be limited to 6 courses of therapy in any 12 month period for any Plan B prescription and non-prescription combination. Click here for information for pharmacists and pharmacy staff in New York.

November 6, 2006
Barr Pharmaceuticals Announces First Shipments of Plan B for OTC Sales. Read more

August 29, 2006
ED Belle Taylor-McGhee Discusses FDA Plan B OTC Decision on KPBS Public Radio. Read more Listen

August 24, 2006
Pharmacy Access Partnership Executive Director Belle Taylor-McGhee hails FDA decision major public health victory – for some women. Read more

August 24, 2006
FDA Approves Plan B for Over-the-Counter Sales for Individuals 18 and Older. Read more

Barr Pharmaceuticals News Release

APhA News Release