20, 2005 - The Ontario Women's Health Council (OWHC) is funding
a public awareness initiative with Planned Parenthood Federation of
Canada (PPFC) in support of Health Canada's decision to make Plan
B, an emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), a non-prescription drug.
"Plan B ECP is a safe and effective method of reducing the risk
of pregnancy after birth-control failure or unprotected sex,"
said Jane Pepino, Chair of the OWHC, "and we are looking forward
to working with Planned Parenthood to help women understand how, when
and where they can get the drug."
The public awareness initiative, ECP-INFO Ontario, will provide information
about ECP in a confidential and respectful way, using tools and resources
commonly used by Ontario women - such as print materials, toll-free
phone lines and web information. The project will also help women
understand the change in regulatory status of Plan B and identify where
they can access the drug.
Until today, Ontario women had to see a physician to get a prescription
for Plan B. Now, women will be able to purchase the drug at pharmacies
"behind the counter." This means that women
will have to consult with a pharmacist before they can get the drug,
which will be kept in a restricted area of the pharmacy. (Read
the CWHN release from May 18, 2004 urging that measures be taken to
ensure equitable access to EC by making it available "over-the-counter"
without pharmacist assistance)
"The OWHC funding has enabled us to implement this important initiative,"
said Linda Capperauld, Executive Director of PPFC. "It's
imperative that women across Ontario know that Plan B ECP is available,
that it's safe, and that it's part of their reproductive rights."
ECP can be used to reduce the risk of pregnancy
up to three days after unprotected sex.
ECP does not terminate established pregnancies, and should not be confused
with the "abortion pill," which is not licensed for sale in
The Ontario Women's
Health Council was established by the Minister of Health and Long-Term
Care in 1998. It provides the minister with expert advice on women's
health matters and acts as an advocate for change in the health-care
system. Council members have a wide range of expertise in fields such
as research, public and community health, and corporate and consumer
issues as they relate to women.
Plan B Emergency Contraception Pill (ECP)
19, 2005, upon direction from Health Canada, the Plan B
emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) will be available without a prescription.
(Previously, women have had to get a physician's prescription before
could get the drug.) The Ontario Women's Health Council (OWHC) supports
decision, and is funding a public awareness project, called ECP-INFO
to be implemented by the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada.
contraceptive pill (ECP) is a hormonal pill that reduces the
risk of pregnancy after contraceptive failure or unprotected sex.
sometimes misleadingly called "morning-after pills." ECPs
however, for up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex.
is important, because the sooner a woman takes ECP, the more effective
ECPs are safe for any woman of reproductive age.
ECP the same as the abortion pill?
No. ECP has
absolutely no effect on an established pregnancy. If a woman
is already pregnant, taking ECP will not cause an abortion. Abortion
not licensed for sale in Canada.
today, how could women get ECP?
Plan B was approved
by Health Canada in 2000 for use as an ECP. Federal
regulations specified that Plan B was a prescription drug under
Schedule F of
the Food and Drug Regulations of the Food and Drugs Act, although
legislation determined who had the authority to prescribe it. In
women had to see a physician to get a prescription for ECP.
can women get ECP now?
Plan B is now
a non-prescription drug that will be available "behind the
counter." This means that women have to consult with a pharmacist
can get it. The pharmacist will do an assessment of the woman's
need for the
drug, provide information on how to take ECP, and provide further
contraceptive counseling or a referral to another health-care provider
much will ECP cost?
at a pharmacy, the cost of ECP will be the wholesale cost
plus a mark-up decided by the pharmacy. This mark-up is unregulated.
It is up
to the pharmacy to decide what price is fair. Some women can also
from sexual health clinics and public health units.
is the ECP-INFO Ontario project?
Ontario project, which is funded by the OWHC and implemented
by the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada (PPFC), will increase
public's awareness of ECP, how it works, and where it can be obtained.
target youth, parents and health professionals in Ontario.
PPFC currently disseminates information about ECP through brochures,
information, and a telephone hotline. The new project will: update
material (such as information about ECP on PPFC's website and the
hotline) to reflect the ECP regulatory change; create new materials;
disseminate information about the existence of the hotline and web
evaluate PPFC's process of disseminating the information and the effectiveness
of that information.