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Published: Saturday, June 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

It will take some time before Plan B is on shelves

An emergency contraception pill has been given federal approval to be sold over-the-counter with no age restrictions, but it won't immediately be available on store shelves.
"We plan to have it in stores by Aug. 1," said Denise Bradley, spokeswoman for the manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.
Changes have to be made in labeling by the manufacturer to allow the emergency contraception pill, called Plan B One-Step, to be widely available.
It's currently available over-the-counter to those 17 and older and to younger teens with a prescription.
The pill generally is effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of birth control failure or unprotected sex.
At Group Health, a committee will meet next week to talk about how they'll manage over-the-counter sales, said Katie McCarthy, a Group Health spokeswoman.
"There will be a little bit of time before you see it on the counter," McCarthy said. "We're waiting for the manufacturer to distribute the product with newer, over-the-counter labeling."
The Federal Drug Administration on Thursday cleared the way for the pill to be sold over the counter, regardless of age. It follows a U.S District Court order instructing the federal agency to allow the sale of emergency contraception over the counter without age or point-of-sale restrictions.
Planned Parenthood dispensed more than 39,000 of the pills last year in Western Washington, Alaska and southern Idaho, said spokeswoman Kristen Glundberg-Prossor.
"It's been such a confusing situation because it's always been our position it should be over the counter," she said. "It's proven to be very safe and effective. Just as you can get condoms over-the-counter without a prescription, you should be able to get this form for birth control."
The pill costs about $35 at its clinics but is available on a sliding fee. Patients younger than 17 have to sit down with clinic staff to get information about the medication, she said.
The pill isn't available at the retail pharmacy at Providence Regional Medical Everett or its retail pharmacies in Mill Creek and Monroe, and there's no plan to change the policy, said Cheri Russum, Providence spokeswoman.
However it is available to victims of sexual assault at its emergency department, she said.
The Pavilion Pharmacy on the hospital campus of Swedish/Edmonds offers the medication. Labeling changes require for it to be available over-the-counter will "include more definition and instruction around proper use, now that it's available to women of all ages rather than those 17 and older," said Ed Boyle, a Swedish spokesman.
Calls to Top Foods, Walgreens, Haggen, Fred Meyer and Costco on how their stores would handle sale of the pill were not returned.
Barry Bartlett, a spokesman for Bartell Drugs, had no information Friday on policies at those stores.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.
Story tags » HealthHealth organizationsMedicines

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