Where can you get the morning after pill?

Originally Published: March 5, 1999 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 20, 2014
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Alice,

Where can you purchase the morning after pill?

Dear Reader,

Good news! In the U.S., Plan B One-Step, a one-pill formulation of emergency contraception (EC; also called the "morning after pill") is available on the shelf in the family planning aisle at many pharmacies and drugstores. This EC is available without a prescription and has no age restrictions. This means that anyone can buy it without having to show an ID as proof-of-age. In the very near future, the generic, less expensive versions of Plan B One-Step will also be available on-the-shelf, without a prescription as well. Though the FDA currently requires the labels of generic EC to say that it is intended for use in women ages 17 and older, proof-of-age will not be required at the time of purchase. It’s a good idea to call the pharmacy or drugstore first to see which types of EC are available. 

The “morning after pill” is a bit of a misnomer — you can take it immediately following sex that occurs when a birth control method failed or not used. However, it can still be effective if taken up to 120 hours afterwards. Bottom line: 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 need it. The price of EC varies by region and pharmacy.

If you're a Columbia student, area pharmacies charge between $30 and $50. Additionally, EC is available for free, 24 hours a day at all public hospitals in the five boroughs of New York City. Clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, also provide emergency contraception and may have a sliding scale fee. Hope this helps!

Alice