Amazon limits purchases of Plan B pills as demand surges

Amazon has restricted sales of emergency contraceptive pills due to demand following last week’s US Supreme Court ruling in which Roe v. Wade was repealed and constitutional abortion rights ended, is skyrocketing.

The company has imposed a temporary volume limit of three units per week on emergency contraceptive pills, Amazon confirmed to CNBC.

A review of emergency contraceptive pills sold on Amazon found different quantity restrictions. A listing for Plan B, a popular brand of the drug levonorgestrel, showed that purchases were limited to three products per shopper. Meanwhile, a listing for a generic version of the drug called My Choice allowed users to purchase up to 30 units.

Amazon is the latest retailer to restrict purchases of the pills. CVS said Monday it would temporarily limit purchases of Plan B pills. The company has since lifted those restrictions and said demand has returned to normal levels.

Walmart said many of the chain’s products have online purchase limits that are subject to change “during periods of fluctuating demand.” Walgreens said there is no limit to the purchase of emergency contraceptive pills.

Emergency contraceptive pills, often referred to as the “morning after pill” and sold under the Plan B brand, can be purchased over the counter and without an ID or prescription.

They typically work by stopping the release of an egg from the ovaries, stopping a sperm from fertilizing an egg, or if fertilization has already occurred, stopping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. They are designed to be taken up to three days after unprotected sex.

The morning-after pill is different from the abortion pill, which requires a prescription and can be used to terminate pregnancy in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade in 1973, which established the constitutional right to abortion in the United States. Numerous states have begun to partially or fully ban the process.

In response, many people have urged others to stock up on Plan B in anticipation of potential birth control pill limitations. Others said potential shortages could affect those most in need, urging people to instead fund organizations that help distribute the pills to keep them available.

— CNBC’s Ian Krietzberg and Melissa Repko contributed to this report.

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