You can buy Plan B on Amazon, but that doesn't mean you should

Jun 14, 2016 at 12:03 a.m. ET
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

You can buy anything on Amazon — even this replica glove of Freddy Krueger's hand from Nightmare on Elm Street. So, it's not really that surprising that the world's largest online marketplace also sells Plan B.

Plan B One-Step was the first emergency contraceptive FDA-approved for over-the-counter sale in 2013. This approval means anyone can purchase it without a doctor's prescription — and that many stores can stock it, including Amazon.

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But is it a good idea?

The Amazon reviews are generally pretty positive. "When you're panicking, look no further. This is the perfect solution to any pregnancy scare that you aren't prepared for," one reviewer said.

Many point to the low price as a reason to buy it on Amazon.

"Effective and having one in case of emergency saves money," added another.

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Saving a few dollars on such an expensive medication is enticing, but that's a huge red flag that it's too good to be true. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises against buying medicine online because "there are many websites that operate legally and offer convenience, privacy, and safeguards for purchasing medicines. But there are also many 'rogue websites' that offer to sell potentially dangerous drugs that have not been checked for safety or effectiveness."

Amazon isn't a "rogue website," but it does have a marketplace for third-party vendors, meaning any company can apply and sell products on the website without much oversight. This means you're rolling the dice when you buy — it could be real, but it could be fake. At best, you could prevent an unwanted pregnancy; at worst, you could be pregnant and not realize before it's too late to take another dose.

This isn't an isolated problem: Johnson & Johnson pulled their products from Amazon for a time in 2012, saying that the company isn't "doing enough to prevent people from selling damaged or expired J&J products," including contaminated batches of Tylenol.

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And if you do buy? It might not get to you in time, especially if you wait to buy until you need it. Plan B must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to be effective and there's no guarantee you'll get it in time.

Don't play with your body to save a few dollars. Just fork over the cash — or visit your local Planned Parenthood — to get access to Plan B. That way you know it's safe and you can get advice from a licensed pharmacist if you need it.

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