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Pricey morning-after pill may end up behind the counter

| Saturday, June 29, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

WASHINGTON — When it comes to the morning-after pill, one thing is clear: Girls of any age who have unprotected sex or a birth-control mishap will soon be able to walk into a store as early as August and get emergency contraception without a doctor's prescription.

But some independent pharmacists said they will keep the medicine behind the counter, and it could be pricey, so it would have a security tag.

CVS said Plan B One-Step would be displayed in the family planning aisle, in special security packaging.

David Toth, owner of a pharmacy in Washington, said he intends to keep Plan B, which he sells for $42.50, behind the counter, along with other expensive items, to prevent shoplifting. “Anything over $20 is not going to be out front,” Toth said.

Despite the FDA's decision to drop age restrictions, “if someone can't see over the counter” — looks too young — he will refuse to sell it, he said.

Toth's plans complicate the easy access pushed by advocates of emergency contraception and others, who say some girls might be too inhibited to ask for a product kept behind the counter.

“Some people are too scared to buy condoms, so people might be too scared to buy Plan B as well,” said Isabella Albamonte, 17, a high school student.

Another potential barrier is the price. Teva, the maker, said the price to retail and wholesale outlets will remain unchanged, but it remains to be seen whether retailers alter the price they charge consumers.

In general, Plan B has been selling for about $40 to $50, which could be out of reach for younger girls. But there is a way to get it free: the 2010 health-care law. Insurance plans covered by the statute are required to provide all FDA-approved contraceptives at no cost — but only with a prescription. Consumers buying it off the shelf will have to pay full price.

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