This is what happened when I, identifying myself as a reporter, spent an hour calling around to random pharmacies all over Colorado Springs. I was looking for a dose of Plan B, and wondering how much it would cost. Colorado Springs may have a reputation of being a bastion for the religious right, but still, I did not anticipate my search in the state’s second largest city would be so arduous
The Ivywild Pharmacy on South Nevada Avenue, south of downtown, was my first stop. The pharmacist says they do not, and will not stock Plan B. “My clientele is almost exclusively elderly,” said the pharmacist, who would not give his name. Asked whether he opposes the emergency contraception on moral and religious grounds, the pharmacist readily concurred. “I’m Catholic I believe in life from conception.”Next was the Medicine Shoppe at 1625 Medical Center Point. The pharmacist, who identified herself as Hope, said the drugstore does not and will not stock Plan B. “This is a clinical pharmacy and most of our clients are in nursing homes,” Hope said. “We don’t have the demand.” The company has no religious or moral reasons, she said for the decision not to stock.
I called the Penrose/St. Francis pharmacy. Penrose/St. Francis is a Catholic hospital. Mike, the pharmacist, said they do not and will not carry Plan B. Any questions about policy need to be answered by the regular manager, who is out until the Monday after Thanksgiving. Mike is just a “floater” which means that he is a temp pharmacist and not a regular employee.
I figured Safeway was a good bet. But when I called the store at North Academy and Union Boulevard, Kevin, the pharmacist, said they “weren’t giving out that information to the press. That’s a corporate decision.” Kevin referred me to the pharmacy services at the regional headquarters in Denver.
When I called that number a couple of times, an answering machine told me “We are experiencing a high degree of calls; try back later.” Finally I reached a woman who said her supervisor, Joe, was on a conference call and that I would either need to speak to him or to Safeway’s PR people. “I’m not able to answer intelligently,” said the woman, who did not identify herself. They would get back to me, she said. (They never did.)
While I was waiting, I called the Safeway store at North Powers and Constitution Boulevard. The voice machine informed me that they are currently offering flu shots. When I got the pharmacist on the phone, he checked and reported that they do not have any emergency contraception stocked. He is also a “floater” and does not know why. He advised me to call back tomorrow and talk to the regular pharmacist.
So I called the Safeway at 1121 North Circle and Galley Road, and Sandy, the pharmacist, reported there is none on the shelf. But guess what? Sandy is also a “floater” and doesn’t know why.
I gave up on the chain, and called Kohler Pharmacy, at 1715 N. Weber, which is near Colorado College. The manager of the store, who identified herself only as “Pharmacist,” says the store does not and will not stock Plan B. “My average clientele is 85 years old; the vast majority of people we serve is assisted living facilities,” Pharmacist said. She does, she said, oppose Plan B for moral and religious reasons, but said that is not why they do not stock the emergency contraception.
I was getting desperate. I called Walgreen’s at 4305 E. Platte. Finally the magic words. “Yes, we have that in stock,” said Aspen the pharmacist. “It costs $43.99.”
I’ve been in Colorado Springs for a long time now, and given the response, one would deduce that, given the response, this is a city full of octogenarians. But a colleague has pointed me to the 2005 American Community Survey, which shows the median age in El Paso County, which includes Colorado Springs, is 33.5 years old. In fact, nearly 38 percent are between 20 and 44 years old.
There might be something else going on here…