One woman had to take a train to London to get the drugsGeograph

Students are struggling to get key contraception from local pharmacies, Varsity has heard.

Emergency contraception, known as ‘Plan B’, works under a time constraint to prevent pregnancy: Levonelle must be taken within three days, while ellaOne or the “morning after pill” has to be taken within five.

A current student, Anna (not her real name), said she struggled to buy the emergency drug this week in Cambridge.

In one pharmacy, she was told that the pharmacist was “too busy” to help and that she should come back later or tomorrow. She was directed, instead, to an online form which could take up to twenty-four hours to receive the contraception.

When told that it was urgent and that she needed the contraception sooner than twenty-four hours, the staff still offered no help.

Anna said she felt anxious due to the lack of “sympathy or acknowledgement of the seriousness of the issue”. Adding that there was “no consideration of the time pressure and urgency”.


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Though managing to purchase emergency contraception in a different pharmacy, the student said it “caused [her] a lot of anxiety” as she “did not want to have to confront someone to get basic health care”.

The problem has also affected local residents. 

A local alumna told Varsity she was “surprised” that while trying to get Plan B in Cambridge, she was told all the central pharmacies had none in stock. She rang other pharmacies but was told that they couldn’t sell since they were closing.

She phoned a hospital as instructed but was told: “I don’t know if we do that” and to “call 111”. Due to the obvious urgency, she was forced to take a train to London to buy the tablet in time.

She said it “seems a major problem if a major university town has no emergency contraception”.

Anna said that the lack of contraception was reflective of an institutional “disregard for the health of people with uteruses”.