Plan B now costs $30 at McKinley

By Natalie Carino

After years of delay, Plan B finally received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for Plan B to become an over-the-counter drug.

Earlier in the semester, Plan B was available to students for no extra charge, but recent changes have required McKinley Health Center to charge for the emergency contraceptive. McKinley Health Center is now offering the non-prescription pill for $30 to fee-paying University students.

“When Plan B went over-the-counter, the manufacturer doubled its price. As a consequence, we’re no longer able to afford to offer it at no charge,” said Dr. David Lawrance, the medical director of McKinley Health, in an e-mail. “I am very disappointed with the manufacturer’s price increase, as there is no change in the medication, only in its packaging.”

Lauren Roman, junior in AHS, said she feels that while the price increase may deter some students from obtaining the emergency contraceptive, charging for Plan B is necessary.

“I feel there is only so much money to go around and I feel the University wouldn’t be able to subsidize the cost,” Roman said. “I think it would be nice if they didn’t have to charge, but $30 isn’t unreasonable.”

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Plan B can only be obtained by people 18 years or older without a prescription at McKinley Health Center, and throughout the state of Illinois. Women younger than the age of 18 must have a prescription to receive the emergency contraceptive.

“The over-the-counter status of Plan B at pharmacies will provide much greater access to women who need it, no matter where in the United States they happen to be,” Lawrance said.

Women who are unable to pay the $30 fee at McKinley Health Center can still obtain Plan B by speaking with a nurse or provider.

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s Web site, Plan B is composed of a synthetic hormone that is also used in birth control pills. Plan B comes in two pills; the first tablet must be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The second tablet must be taken 12 hours after the first tablet was taken. Plan B works by preventing ovulation or fertilization.

Plan B reduces the risk of pregnancy by 89 percent, when taken after one act of unprotected sex. Plan B, however, does not reduce the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.

“I do want to stress that Plan B is not a very effective form of birth control, not nearly as good as a condom when used correctly,” Lawrance said.

The Food and Drug Administration reports that 23 percent of users will experience nausea, 18 percent abdominal pain and 17 percent will experience a headache.