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Why Are Pharmacies Lying to Teenagers?

Why Are Pharmacies Lying to Teenagers?


The war on women’s health has found itself another battleground — the neighborhood pharmacy.

According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, teen girls routinely receive inaccurate information about the legality of Plan B  –  the so-called “morning after pill,” which is available for anyone 17 and older to purchase over the counter. But that’s not what the researchers posing as 17-year-old girls were told.

Alarmingly, in nearly 1 out of 5 cases, the researcher-cum-teenager was told by a pharmacy worker that they could not purchase Plan B at all. When asked what the age requirement was, pharmacy workers got the answer wrong 43 percent of the time.

Lead author Dr. Tracey Wilkinson told MSNBC that this is particularly troubling because, “…I think if you told an adolescent once that she couldn’t get the medication, she probably wouldn’t call another pharmacy. It would be the end of her attempts.”

Half of the nearly 640,000 unplanned pregnancies among 15-to-19-year-olds in the U.S. could be prevented by emergency contraception.

Interestingly, when researchers posed as doctors that were calling about a 17-year-old purchasing Plan B, only 3 percent were inaccurately told they could not legally buy the drug. As the study points out, it’s fair to mention that doctors are more likely to speak with the pharmacists themselves, and patients were more likely to speak with technicians. But this can’t completely explain why there is such a huge difference between the answers the teens received and the answer the doctors received — some pharmacy workers’ moral objection to teenagers having unsafe sex is almost certainly at work here, too.

In an age when abstinence-only education rules health classes, where politicians blatantly lie about women’s health statistics on the Senate floor, it’s particularly troubling that teenaged girls are being told wrong information by pharmacy workers — professionals they’re supposed to trust.

What do you think? Leave your opinion in the comments section below!

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Katie Waldeck

Katie is a freelance writer focused on pets, food and women’s issues. A Chicago native and longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Katie now lives in Oakland, California.


+ add your own
1:49AM PDT on Mar 13, 2013

Thank you :)

12:35PM PDT on Mar 12, 2013


11:35AM PDT on Mar 11, 2013


3:49AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

Why? In order to make money.

7:36PM PDT on Jun 14, 2012

birth control should be accessible to a teenager over 16 at ANY time, and the morning after pill also. condoms should be easy to get too. They are GOING to have sex. No force on earth will stop it. Sooo, allow them (encourage them) to be protected and make adult decisions

7:14PM PDT on Apr 10, 2012

Not surprising, but still disturbing.

5:59PM PDT on Apr 8, 2012

i agree with roger n. and karen k

7:58PM PDT on Apr 5, 2012


9:16AM PDT on Apr 5, 2012

Disturbing. And I would bet that the people lying are supposedly devout Christians.

1:31PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

These companies & pharmacists need to be reported. They are no-one to mislead anyone based on their beliefs or prejudices. This is wrong on so many levels. What's worse is the girls are taking up the slack, when they alone couldn't have gotten themselves why is it that males keep getting away with having as much sex (and many times unprotected) as they want and get absolutely no slack for it throughout society. It's the female that gets pregnant but it's the males that got them there! Society should treat this as a partnership, maybe then, when young men are made more responsible in these issues, they won't be so dang promiscuous jumping from one girl to another. At least the morning after pill is a quick fix, not so dramatic and controversial as abortion, plus there is break in the fertilization process. This should be much more appealing to the right-wing pro-life advocates, in my view. Again, the companies w/these types of pharmacists should be reported and the individuals fired! They are public servants nothing more.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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