(HealthDay News) – While most pharmacies report having emergency contraception (EC) in stock, misinformation regarding what age women can take it without a prescription is common, according to a study published online March 26 in Pediatrics.

Tracey A. Wilkinson, MD, MPH, of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues utilized female callers posing as 17-year-old adolescents, or as physicians calling on behalf of 17-year-old patients, to call 943 pharmacies in five US cities.

The researchers found that 759 pharmacies (80%) told adolescent callers, and 766 (81%) told physician callers, that EC was available on the day of the call. However, more pharmacies (19%) incorrectly told the adolescent callers that it would be impossible for them to obtain EC under any circumstances, compared with 3% of pharmacies making that claim to physician callers. Pharmacies conveyed the correct age for which they were allowed to dispense EC without a prescription in 431 adolescent calls (57%) and 466 physician calls (61%). Compared with physician callers, adolescent callers were put on hold more frequently (54% vs. 26%) and spoke to self-identified pharmacists significantly less often (3% vs. 12%).

“Most pharmacies report having EC in stock. However, misinformation regarding who can take EC, and at what age it is available without a prescription, is common,” the authors write.

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