Objective: To determine pharmacy availability of ulipristal acetate (UPA) and compare to availability of levonorgestrel-containing emergency contraceptive pills (LNG-ECPs).
Methods: We conducted an observational population-based study utilizing a telephone-based secret shopper methodology. Researchers called all 198 unique retail pharmacies in Hawaii on December 2013-June 2014, representing themselves as patients and physicians.
Results: Only 2.6% of pharmacies had UPA immediately available, though 22.8% reported ability to order UPA. In contrast, 82.4% reported immediate availability of LNG-ECPs. No significant difference in availability was reported to patients and physicians.
Conclusions: Availability of UPA is limited and significantly lower compared to LNG-ECPs. The study period did overlap with a change in distributor for UPA, likely capturing some disruption of the supply chain.
Implications: Systems-based interventions are needed to address barriers to obtaining UPA.
Keywords: Availability; Emergency contraception; Hawaii; Pharmacies; Ulipristal acetate; United States.
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