Emergency contraception (EC) is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy, which is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has, since 2013, allowed retailers to sell emergency contraception products on the shelf to anyone regardless of age or gender, and without a requirement to present identification. Nowhere in FDA guidelines is it suggested that people require assistance from pharmacy staff to purchase emergency contraceptives authorized for sale on the shelf.
Publix, a staple retail chain in Floridian communities, has a corporate policy that inhibits customer access to emergency contraception
In visits to more than 100 Publix stores, volunteers from the Floridians for Reproductive Freedom coalition found the only way to access EC was through the pharmacy counter. Other retailers with pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart offer it over the counter, on the aisle in the family planning section. (A study by the American Society for Emergency Contraception found that 76 percent of chain retailers already put emergency contraceptives on the shelf.)
Publix requires customers to ask for EC, such as Plan B One Step, from the pharmacy staff to purchase it, despite it being authorized for sale off the shelf. This requirement puts unnecessary barriers in the way of Publix customers, many of whom may be young and vulnerable, who need essential reproductive care products. This not only makes accessing emergency contraception awkward and difficult, but is patronizing to customers, and stigmatizes reproductive health care.
People need easy access to emergency contraception because it is a time-sensitive medication that is most effective the sooner it is taken. Requiring customers to wait for the pharmacy to open, or to ask for emergency contraception from a pharmacy employee, are unnecessary obstacles. The Publix practice of singling out customers purchasing emergency contraceptives from all other customers purchasing safe and effective over the counter medications hurts our communities.
It is time to put EC directly on the shelf where it belongs. With more than 1,200 stores spanning six states, countless customers depend on Publix for timely access to medication. Help us push Publix to do better for their communities and customers; work with us to ensure Publix stocks emergency contraception on the shelf as other retailers do.
- Participate in our EC Power Hour on Thursday, November 19 at 7pm. More info and register here.
- Post about it on social media. Access social media toolkit here.
- Print, trim, and send postcards to Publix corporate headquarters. Get directions and download here.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper; send a copy to your local Publix pharmacy and grocery managers. LTE tip sheet here.
- Submit a comment online to the Publix customer relations department!