Amazon, Rite Aid Cap Purchase of Emergency Contraceptives

NEW YORK — Amazon is limiting how many emergency contraceptives consumers can buy, joining other retailers who put in place similar caps following the Supreme Court decision overruling Roe v. Wade.

Amazon’s limit, which temporarily caps purchase of the contraceptives at three units per week, went into effect on Monday, a spokesperson for the e-commerce giant confirmed to The Associated Press. The company did not share further details on what emergency contraceptive products were limited for purchase, but a listing showed the cap applied to Plan B, the popular “morning after” pill.

Rite Aid also implemented a similar policy Monday. Due to increasing demand for Plan B, the company has restricted the number of units that can be purchased per customer to just three. Both online and in-store orders are subject to the same limit.

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It is different to use emergency contraception for ending a pregnancy. Plan B is available without prescription and contains the exact same medication as regular birth control pills. Plan B is a concentrated dose of the same drug that can be used to reduce pregnancy risk. It must be taken by a woman within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.

Some abortion supporters believe that fertility is the beginning of life. They have attacked emergency contraception. Federally-approved labels state that it can prevent fertilized eggs from attaching in the womb. However, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists researchers have found it to be unlikely.

A large Missouri hospital chain briefly stopped providing Plan B due to confusion over whether the state’s abortion ban could put doctors at risk of criminal charges for providing it. St. Luke’s Health Kansas City said Wednesday, however, that it would resume offering the medication.

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Limiting purchases by retailers is a standard practice. This helps them avoid stockpiling or reselling products at higher prices.

“Retailers are being cautious. They are trying to manage it,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “But I don’t think there are chronic shortages.”

Walmart, Amazon’s top competitor, has capped online purchases of Plan B to 10 units, though it’s unclear when the purchase limit began. The retailer doesn’t have in-store limits at this time, but managers may make changes to help ensure availability based on the demand.

“Many of our products have online purchase limits in place,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “During times of fluctuating demand, these limits may change.”

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Meanwhile, CVS Health said it removed its own caps on emergency contraceptives after it installed a temporary limit following Friday’s high court ruling. The company said it had been seeking to preserve access to the products following a “sharp increase” in sales, which have since returned to normal levels.

“We continue to have ample supply of emergency contraceptives to meet customer needs,” CVS Health spokesman Matthew Blanchette said.

Walgreens, a pharmacy chain, is still able meet customer demand for curbside pickups of contraceptives and in-store purchase. However, Emily Mekstan spokeswoman said that the company will be restocking their ship-to home business after experiencing a surge in customer demand. CVS Health is the largest U.S. pharmacy chain, while Walgreens is second. There are approximately 19,000 of them.

Spokespeople for Target and Kroger said they didn’t have anything to share on potential limits on contraceptive purchases.


Staff writers at the AP Anne D’InnocenzioNew York City Tom MurphyThis report was contributed by Indianapolis.

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