Controversial Plan B OK’d by Wal-Mart

Representatives of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced the company will repeal its earlier policy and stock emergency contraception pills in its pharmacies.

Wal-Mart will begin selling Plan B in all of its pharmacies beginning March 20.

The controversy with Plan B began Feb. 1 when three Boston women filled a lawsuit against Wal-Mart because they did not stock the emergency contraception.

The announcement to sell it came after a Massachusetts court ordered Wal-Mart to stock the drug.

Illinois, also required to sell the drug, is the only other state that has stocked Plan B.

Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that can be used to prevent pregnancy following unprotected intercourse or after a suspected contraceptive failure.

For the pill to be effective, the first tablet should be taken within 72 hours after intercourse and the second tablet must be taken 12 hours after the first tablet.

Common side effects include abdominal pain, nausea, headache, fatigue and menstrual changes in women.

Some students think the availability of the pill may cause a lax feeling about engaging in sexual intercourse and using protection.

“Having the pill available as such may cause people to become more promiscuous and irresponsible concerning using protection when having sex,” said Curtis Hawkins, 21, a fourth year pharmacy student from Miami.

“If they make it available it seems that others will think it is an easy way out or alternative to other birth control measures,” said Gerard Jenkins, 25, a senior biology student from Fort Myers.

Wal-Mart expects that other states will require all pharmacies carry the drug in the near future. Store representatives said, they did not want to be the only pharmacy not to stock the drug.

“We expect more states to require us to sell emergency contraceptives in the months ahead,” said Ron Chomiuk, vice president of pharmacy operations for Wal-Mart.

“Because of this, and the fact that this is an FDA-approved product, we feel it is difficult to justify being the country’s only major pharmacy chain not selling it,” Chomiuk said in a released statement.

With the availability of Plan B at Wal-Mart pharmacies, an accountability issue with the drug is presented.

“I have concerns (on whether) individuals will be confident enough to take the medication correctly. Also, I am concerned about the liability that is associated with this medication and who will be held accountable for younger adults wanting to take or taking this medication,” said Martha Ross, pharmacy manager at Florida A&M University Student Health Services.

Other FAMU students feel that Wal-Mart is sending a message to the public that it is advocating the emergency pill and having unprotected intercourse.

“I am not disagreeing with having the pill available but there is a lot of liability for Wal-Mart because it shows its acceptance to keep having unprotected sex,” said Tu’Liisa Miller, 19, a freshman physical therapy student from San Francisco.

FAMU students also feel the drug may cause people to be less responsible in making the decision to have sexual intercourse.

“I don’t think it should be offered at Wal-Mart because if gives and excuse to be irresponsible when having sexual intercourse,” said Brandy Petterson, 23, a graduate business administration student from Las Vegas.

According to Wal-Mart’s Web site, Wal-Mart will uphold its “conscientious objection policy.”

This policy, except where it is prohibited by law, allows any Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club pharmacy associate who does not feel comfortable dispensing a prescription to refer customers to another pharmacist or pharmacy.

A Wal-Mart pharmacist was contacted for this story; they stated that they could not comment on any actions of Wal-Mart and to call its corporate offices.

At the time of publication, the corporate office had not contacted The Famuan to comment.

Contact Kia Bell at