Stockpiling Plan B?
June 28, 2018 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Is it really a good idea to stockpile Plan B? If so, how?

I myself am of an age where one more IUD replacement (due in November) should do me for life. However, if we do return to an era of illicit abortions, I would want to do everything I can to help younger women.

Is it worthwhile buying and saving Plan B (or other medications?) that I don't need for myself? I saw a post somewhere on here that said the official expiration was 4 years --- is it actually effective for longer than that? How would I let people know that I had it?

If I did start a cache, and the worst doesn't end up coming to pass, are there places that I could donate the medications in advance of their expiration dates?

Are there other things that I should be putting that money towards instead, if my highest priority is ensuring that women who need it have access to safe abortions, regardless of whether those abortions are legal?

(Sorry for the slightly panicked tone; I have honestly been thinking about it for quite a while, but the events of this week have prompted me to ask while the asking is good.)
posted by slenderloris to Law & Government (28 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Eleven marked as a favorite question and nobody has answered? This is a favorite topic of mine!

slenderloris, although I don't know how you would go about doing this, other than covertly "getting" the medicine from a pharmacy (think the train robbery in "Breaking Bad"), but hell yes, it's a good idea, in my opinion. Personally, I think Plan B should be marketed in TicTac boxes and distributed everywhere.

The "how" is the thing. I hope someone can come along with usable advice.
posted by BostonTerrier at 4:46 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Isn’t Plan B over the counter now? I know it’s expensive but are you looking for an answer other than “buy it”? I want to help answer this question, so please update if you can!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:54 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh... I have bought it once, many years ago, just by going to the pharmacy counter and asking to purchase it.

Is that no longer how it works? Have I missed the boat already???

---

Yes, I am asking if it is a good idea to buy it myself and store it in a closet until someone else needs it.
posted by slenderloris at 4:56 PM on June 28, 2018


Seen on the megathread.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:56 PM on June 28, 2018


Plan B isn't an abortive pill, though. It prevents implantation. (Correct me if I'm wrong) It would be similar to stockpiling regular birth control pills.
posted by starman at 4:58 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Well it's hard to say, depending on local availability... since it became available in my city, one has to go to several (personally, up to 6) different pharmacies to find one that has it in stock. So it may make it more available at a later date, but less available in the interim. So I'd take that into consideration before proceeding to stockpile.
posted by OnefortheLast at 5:07 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Plan B isn't an abortive pill, though. It prevents implantation. (Correct me if I'm wrong) It would be similar to stockpiling regular birth control pills.

I don't think the OP or anyone answering is unclear on the concept. the idea is that when you need emergency contraception, you need it immediately anyway, but you need it extra immediately when a potential abortion ban means that conception would be a catastrophe.

but also, no, it would not be similar, because it would not be a good idea to try to roll your own emergency contraception by looking up the exact hormone dosage in your particular birth control brand and trying to do the math & conversions to figure out how many of what to take. Even though that is probably possible to do, it would definitely not be just as easy or as good an idea. nowhere near.

(edit: not a doctor and not suggesting people in dire straits couldn't or shouldn't do that. it's a bad idea mainly because it's already not 100 percent effective even when a pharmaceutical company did the math for you, presumably correctly.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:07 PM on June 28, 2018 [3 favorites]




Sorry; what a terrible job I did framing the post. I guess my real question, which I thought was too open-ended, was "What can I do now to prepare for the worst?"

And yes, queenofbithynia, that's what I was trying to get at.
posted by slenderloris at 5:11 PM on June 28, 2018


I'd be nervous about how effective it would be post-expiration date. Say a year after it's expired, is it... 50% effective (so take double the usual dose)? 75%? 20%? Are there weird new side effects to think about as the compound or filler morphs into something else? Storage precautions? (Away from light and heat would probably extend the effective life of the drug.)
posted by basalganglia at 5:18 PM on June 28, 2018


I’m not saying that I started to do this immmediately after the inauguration, but I’ve managed to end up with a suggested Amazon Dash button for it. I too have an IUD and am of an age that I should be good, but I have enough friends with daughters that I felt like even if they just sat in a drawer for four years, it was worth the money spent.
posted by librarianamy at 5:21 PM on June 28, 2018 [4 favorites]



Are there other things that I should be putting that money towards instead, if my highest priority is ensuring that women who need it have access to safe abortions, regardless of whether those abortions are legal


National Network of Abortion Funds/ your local abortion fund. Even if/when RvW is overturned, there will be states like Washington where it'll stay both legal and available until or unless there's some horrifying federal law passed. and that will take some time. it is not going to be outlawed all across the country in a single stroke, so funds that pay for travel as well as medical costs are vital to donate to.

in the long term I always put in a word for Medical Students for Choice because they run training seminars for decent aspiring doctors stuck in med schools that don't require or even offer instruction on performing abortions, and they do what they can to keep ethics in women's medicine. legal abortion's no good if there's nobody to do it.

and look up Women on Waves. I don't think they're in a position to do much for U.S. women yet, but they're heroes
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:24 PM on June 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


If you decide to do this, go through some sort of online source. Don't clear out the drugstore shelves, because then it won't be there for someone who needs it tonight.
posted by themanwho at 5:27 PM on June 28, 2018 [17 favorites]


I would take that money and donate it to an abortion fund instead.

Plan B is not tremendously efficacious, and hasn't done much to the abortion rate since it was introduced (which is to say, it's not doing a lot to help the people to go on to need abortions).
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 5:43 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that Canada is unlikely to criminalize abortion. Plan B is over the counter here (and I think free in Ontario?). Also pharmacists can dispense the abortion pill (mifegysmo). If the border is within driving distance I would not worry too much on access and focus on lobbying/activism.
posted by saucysault at 6:30 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


One of the problems I could see if that you get the boxes of Plan B, and none of the people in your life who could use it, can get it from you in time - or even think to come to you for it. They may know that you have a box or two, but in a panic? They may just hoof it to the local pharmacy instead.

However, if you know of people in your life who could use it, you could get boxes and gift some to them, so that they have it readily on hand. Or at least know that they have a box at home or something. That might be the most useful way to distribute Plan B to people.

And if you go this route, I'd definitely order it online.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:52 PM on June 28, 2018


I posted to a different thread:

Buying Plan B One-Step has come up. FWIW, depending on eligibility and insurance it may be more cost-effective to get a birth control prescription and stockpile a few months' worth of pills. Followed a Planned Parenthood link to this conversion chart for using regular oral contraceptives as emergency contraception.
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:58 PM on June 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think the real issue here is that the FDA may make it prescription-only again, and then you have pharmacists refusing to dispense.

It's about $40-50/pop. Having a dose or two stashed away for yourself or friends just seems sensible. If that's all you can ever spend on activism in this area, it's probably not the best and highest use, though.
posted by praemunire at 7:01 PM on June 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would venture to suggest that current and future young women are likely far more adept with Internet Black Market Fundamentals than you or I could ever hope to be.

I also wonder how you intend to spread the word about your stash? It seems like if Plan B becomes illegal, you would be literally distributing illegal drugs and as far as I know this is a pretty serious crime in the US. Getting it to the people who need/want it would have to be done through a covert network, just like any other illegal drug. This network would be especially important because of the time-sensitive nature of emergency contraception. People who will need it will need to know you have it before they need it. Do you have that kind of information network available?

If it doesn't become illegal, though, people will still be able to buy it in stores and won't need your stash. If times do not become as desperate as you expect, what will you do with your stash? Most people will probably not want free birth control pills from some stranger's basement unless they are hopeless. Do you have a plan for this?

Finally, I'd worry about the safety and efficacy of medications that haven't been properly stored or have expired, both of which are possibilities.


Plan B is over the counter here (and I think free in Ontario?) OTC yes. Free, no. OTC products aren't free and free perscriptions are age limited. It's pretty expensive if I remember correctly.
posted by windykites at 7:09 PM on June 28, 2018


It seems like if Plan B becomes illegal, you would be literally distributing illegal drugs and as far as I know this is a pretty serious crime in the US.

Indeed, yes, if abortion becomes illegal again and Plan B is a victim of that, people are going to have to break the law to help other people get abortions. Time to get used to the idea.
posted by praemunire at 7:20 PM on June 28, 2018 [39 favorites]


It seems like if Plan B becomes illegal, you would be literally distributing illegal drugs and as far as I know this is a pretty serious crime in the US.

Probably so, but that didn't stop me from making posts on Twitter this morning, and reaching out to all of my offline feminist networks with information on shelf life for Plan B and Ella, the fact that Plan B is only effective in patients up to 180 lbs, that Ella is the choice for patients over 180 lbs (but does have more side effects, including lowering the efficacy of hormonal birth control.)

Oh, and that it's available online in lots of places, both as Plan B and Ella for $40 - $80/dose, and in low-cost generic form AfterPill at $20 a dose.

I discussed this with my BFF and explicitly said, I will be buying doses for your child and mine, just in case. So tell her now, if she ever needs emergency contraception, I have it. And if there comes a time that it's not available, and she needs an abortion, I will help her find a provider who will give her one safely. I said these words now, when they're not illegal.

I presume they'll still be online if that changes.
posted by headspace at 7:57 PM on June 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


There were groups who learned how to do safe abortions back when it was illegal. Just preserving the knowledge is no small thing.
posted by theora55 at 8:08 PM on June 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Windykites, you are right. The abortion pill is free but plan b is only free for those under 25. I know when I used it years ago it was free because I went to a university health clinic.
posted by saucysault at 8:12 PM on June 28, 2018


(just a couple of small notes re: Plan B.
1) Plan B works by delaying ovulation not by preventing implantation, despite what the FDA labels say
2) Plan B has not been proven to work for people with BMI's over 26 )
posted by twill at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


And as for preparing for the worst, like, the absolute worst, there are resources out there on how to do self-induced abortions, although some of these methods can be incredibly dangerous/life threatening.
posted by twill at 8:38 AM on June 29, 2018


Morning after pills are easy to get in Mexican pharmacies if you travel there. Back when you still needed an rx for plan b, "someone i know" got morning after pills on vacation and sprinkled them around my friend group at school.
posted by WeekendJen at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


You can buy the generic version for $12 on Amazon. I am a dude and bought a couple of boxes because why not, they don't expire for a few years.
posted by bradbane at 10:49 AM on June 29, 2018


I'm laying in some supplies of both Plan B and ella. IRL whisper networks may become critical in this realm.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 1:56 PM on June 29, 2018


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