Where can you get the morning after pill?
Originally Published: March 5, 1999 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 1, 2009
Where can you purchase the morning after pill?
Good news! Plan B, a brand of progestin-only emergency contraceptive pill (also called EC or the morning after pill) is now for sale without a prescription to women and men 17 and older. That means women and men can get EC directly from the pharmacist. Plan B is available at pharmacies across the United States; you can buy it as long as there is a pharmacist on duty and you have a government-issued ID with your age or date of birth.
In most states, you'll still need a prescription for emergency contraception from your health care provider if you're under 17. However, nine states — Washington, California, Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont — had passed laws allowing over-the-counter sales of Plan B before the FDA's ruling. In these states, women under 17 can continue to get Plan B without a prescription from pharmacists who have fulfilled special training requirements. As of 2005, Canadian women of all ages can also get Plan B without a prescription. Columbia students under 17 can get a prescription by calling x4-2284 to make an appointment at Primary Care Medical Services; after hours a clinician on call will be able to assist.
EC can be used up to 120 hours, or five days, after unprotected intercourse, but it's more effective the sooner it's taken. You may want to get a package to have on hand — that way, you can take EC as soon as possible if you do unexpectedly have unprotected sex. Women under 17 can ask their health care provider for a prescription before they need EC to avoid waiting for an appointment if there is an emergency.
The price of EC varies by region and pharmacy. If you're a Columbia student, area pharmacies charge between $30 and $50, and the New York City Department of Health Riverside Clinic (160 West 100th Street) dispenses it for free. Clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, also provide emergency contraception and may have a sliding scale fee.
For more information about where to get the EC closest to you, call the Emergency Contraception Hotline from anywhere in the United States at 1.888.NOT.2.LATE (1.888.668.2.5283). You can also find all of the above information and more in English, Spanish, French, and Arabic at the Emergency Contraception (NOT-2-LATE.com) Web site.