By HALELUYA HADERO
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is limiting the number of emergency contraceptives consumers can purchase and joining other retailers who have introduced similar limits after the Supreme Court ruling overruled Roe v. Wade.
Amazon’s cap, which temporarily limits contraceptive purchases to three units per week, took effect Monday, a spokesman for the e-commerce giant confirmed to The Associated Press. The company didn’t share further details about which emergency contraceptive products had limited availability, but a list showed the limit for Plan B, the popular morning after pill.
A similar policy went into effect Monday at drugstore chain Rite Aid, which has limited purchase of Plan B pills to three units per customer due to increased demand, a company spokesperson said. The limit applies to both in-store and online purchases.
Emergency contraception is different from abortion pills used to terminate a pregnancy. Plan B, which is available without a prescription, contains a concentrated dose of the same drug found in many regular birth control pills. If a woman takes Plan B within 72 hours of unprotected sex, she can significantly lower the risk of pregnancy. But if she is already pregnant, the pill has no effect.
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Limiting purchases is a standard practice that helps retailers avoid inventory and resell at higher prices.
“Retailers are cautious. They’re trying to manage it,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. “But I don’t think there are chronic deficiencies.”
Walmart, Amazon’s biggest competitor, has limited Plan B’s online purchases to 10 units, though it’s unclear when the purchase cap started. The store has no store limits at this time, but managers can make changes to guarantee availability based on demand.
“Many of our products have limits on online purchases,” said a Walmart spokesperson. “In times of fluctuating demand, these limits may change.”
Meanwhile, CVS Health said it had removed its own limits on emergency contraceptives after it imposed a temporary limit following Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. The company said it had tried to maintain access to the products after a “sharpening” in sales, which have since returned to normal levels.
“We still have an ample supply of emergency contraceptives to meet customer needs,” said CVS Health spokesman Matthew Blanchette.
The pharmacy chain Walgreens is still able to meet the demand for in-store purchases and pick-ups for over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills. But spokeswoman Emily Mekstan said the company is replenishing its ship-to-home business, increasing demand. CVS Health and Walgreens are the two largest US drugstore chains. Together they run approximately 19,000 locations.
Spokespersons for Target and Kroger said they had nothing to say about possible limits on contraceptive purchases.
AP staff writers Anne D’Innocenzio in New York and Tom Murphy in Indianapolis contributed to this report.
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