Stores prepare to widen access to Plan B pill

Drugstores are preparing to change how they stock and sell a widely used emergency contraceptive after the Obama administration agreed to allow the pill to be sold over the counter to customers of all ages.

The pill, sold primarily under the brand name Plan B, is currently stocked behind pharmacy counters, not on drugstore shelves. Also, girls 16 or younger need a prescription to buy it.

That is set to change in the coming months, after the Obama administration said late Monday that it would reverse its long-standing position and would comply with a judge's ruling to make the drug available to women and girls of any age without a prescription.

Plan B, which can be used up to three days after intercourse to prevent pregnancy, has been a flash point in social debates, and some pharmacies have refused to sell it. Conservative groups say that allowing anyone to buy the drug undermines the rights of parents to make health decisions for their daughters.

The pill is sold by most major drugstore chains, including those run by CVS Caremark Corp., CVS +0.12% Rite RAD -2.91% Aid Corp. and Walgreen Co. WAG -0.22% CVS said Tuesday that it "supports medication access, including promptly and appropriately satisfying the needs of customers for emergency contraception." A Rite Aid spokesman said any changes to its sales plans are contingent on the Food and Drug Administration's approval of an application to move the product fully over-the-counter.

Changes to how the drug is sold won't be immediate. Drug makers will need to relabel products, which could take weeks.

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