By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

April 22, 2008 ( – The proposal to limit the pharmacist’s role in dispensing the “morning-after pill” has raised serious concerns from the Canadian Pharmacists Association.

While the pill has been available in Canada without a prescription since 2005, an advisory committee has urged the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA), which oversees how drugs can be sold in pharmacies, to allow the morning-after pill to be sold “in front of the counter,” which means that it will be as readily available as a pack of gum.

Another agency, the National Drug Scheduling Advisory Committee, has recommended that NAPRA change the rules for selling Plan B after reviewing an application from the drug’s manufacturer, Paladin Labs Inc.

Janet Cooper of the Canadian Pharmacists Association said in a National Post report, “Emergency contraceptives would be more readily available here [under the proposal] than in any developed country.”

“I’m not sure how comfortable the general public might be if a 14-year-old could just walk in, pick it up off the shelf, buy it, not have any interaction with anybody and come back a month later and do the same thing. That’s not in that girl’s best interests.”

Cooper explained that pharmacists now are required to speak with the purchaser before they buy the drug and advise them on the appropriateness of using the drug. She said that pharmacists have found that about a third of potential customers should not use the pill.

Dr. Judith Soon, a University of British Columbia pharmacology professor, also observed that although the recommended change “could be a positive move for access, no research has yet shown the pill reduces the number of abortions or teen pregnancies, as advocates have long hoped.”

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FDA Approves Plan B Abortifacient for Over-the-Counter