Why Are Pharmacies Lying to Teenagers?

Why Are Pharmacies Lying to Teenagers?

  • Katie Waldeck

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.