What You Should Know When Buying Plan B One-Step

Plan B One-Step (also known as the morning-after pill) was approved by the FDA in July 2009. Plan B One-Step is just one oral pill (1.5 mg levonorgestrel tablet) and has replaced the old Plan B. It is an emergency contraception method that can be used to help prevent an unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Plan B One-Step is most effective the sooner you take it, so it is important to take it as soon as possible.

Box of plan b
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Should You Buy Plan B One-Step?

The decision whether or not you need to buy Plan B One-Step should be mainly based on how long it has been since you had unprotected sex or experienced birth control failure. You should use Plan B One-Step if it has been less than 3 days (72 hours) since this incident. Plan B One-Step (as well as its generic alternatives) is most effective if you use it within 24 hours. It can be taken up to 72 hours—though research suggests that these emergency contraceptives may still be effective for up to 5 days or 120 hours. 


Click Play to Learn About Plan B One-Step Emergency Contraception

This video has been medically reviewed by Chioma Ndubisi, MD

Where to Buy

Here's where you can buy Plan B One-Step:

  • Your local pharmacy or drugstore
  • Stores like Walmart and Target
  • Some grocery stores
  • Online

You can buy Plan B One-Step just like you would buy most products in the store. Once you are in the store, you may have some trouble finding where Plan B One-Step is located. The most common locations in a store where you can find Plan B One-Step are:

  • The family-planning aisle
  • Behind the pharmacy counter
  • Near the cash register or check-out location

If Plan B One-Step is located on the shelf, simply take it to the cashier, pay, and you're finished!

Some stores may keep Plan B One-Step on the shelf, but it is contained inside a clear, plastic box. If this is the case, you will need to take the box to the cashier, who will unlock it and remove the Plan B One-Step package after you have paid for it.

There may be a free-standing sign directing you to the check-out counter or pharmacy. There may also be a "spot" for Plan B One-Step in the family-planning aisle with a sign telling you where to buy it in the store. Just go to that part of the store indicated on the sign and ask to buy Plan B One-Step. The store employee/pharmacist will then provide you with the product. 

How to Lower Costs

Plan B One-Step costs about 20% more than its generic alternatives (ranging in price between $30 to $65—with an average price of $49.99). You can save money on the cost of Plan B One-Step by buying one of these options. The four available generic alternatives to Plan B One-Step are:

You can buy Next Choice One Dose, My Way, and Take Action the same way that you can buy Plan B One-Step, but AfterPill is only available online. All of these generic options have the same 1.5 mg levonorgestrel tablet. You also use them the same way as Plan B One-Step, and they are all equally effective.

Can You Buy Plan B One-Step?

Yes! You can buy Plan B One-Step over-the-counter (without a prescription) no matter how old you are. There is confusion over who can buy Plan B One-Step because there was a lot of back-and-forth decision-making and debate between the FDA and the courts over age requirements. But in 2013, the judge in court case Tummino v. Hamburg officially ruled that Plan B One-Step can be bought without a prescription and with no age restrictions. Then, in 2016, the Supreme Court decided to leave intact a law that banned conscientious objecting—basically, the courts determined that store owners must stock Plan B One-Step (and/or its generic alternatives) even if the owner morally objects to this product based on religious grounds.

Tips to Consider

  • Keep in mind just because a store has a family-planning aisle that carries OTC contraceptives (like condoms, the sponge, VCF, etc.), home pregnancy tests, and personal lubricants (like Wet Gellee or Astroglide), it doesn't mean that the store also has to sell Plan B One-Step (or its generic alternatives).
  • Stores that do sell Plan B One-Step may only have a small inventory (limited quantities). This means that the store may not have it in stock when you come to buy Plan B One-Step. One way to solve this problem is to buy Plan B One-Step ahead of time—this way, you already have it at home if you need it.
  • Because you want to use Plan B One-Step as soon as possible, it is probably a good idea to call your local drugstore ahead of time to ask if they have Plan B One-Step, My Way, Take Action, and/or Next Choice One Dose in stock. This way, you don't waste precious time driving from one store to another looking for it. When you call the store, you should also ask where they keep this product. Remember, in-store pharmacies typically close before the stores do, so if the particular store keeps Plan B One-Step in the pharmacy, you may not be able to buy it if you arrive once the pharmacy has closed.
  • Finally, remember that the over-the-counter status (with no age restrictions) only applies to Plan B One-Step and its one-pill generic alternatives. This means that if you wish to obtain Next Choice (the two pill, generic to Plan B), you must be at least 17 years of age and provide valid ID to prove your age before you can purchase it. If you are under 17, you will need a prescription. You will also need a prescription if you want to buy the emergency contraceptive Ella.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you purchase Plan B over-the-counter?

    Yes, Plan B emergency contraception is available without a prescription. Plan B is kept behind the pharmacy counter in most drug stores and may only be available during pharmacy hours.

  • Is Plan B available at Walmart?

    Yes, Plan B is available at Walmart stores and online. Where you will find it depends on the store. If the Walmart has a pharmacy, Plan B will likely be behind the counter. It may be in a locked cabinet and will require the help of a sales associate. Some stores may keep Plan B with other family-planning items, such as condoms.

  • Can I buy Plan B in advance?

    Yes, since you do not need a prescription to buy Plan B, you can buy it in advance of actually needing it. Many women keep a Plan B on hand in case of emergency.

    If you choose to buy Plan B, just in case, keep the expiration date in mind. In most cases, Plan B has a shelf-life of four years. Do not take Plan B after the expiration date.

  • Do you need ID to buy Plan B?

    Maybe. In some states, you will need to show ID to purchase Plan B. The emergency contraceptive is approved for people of all ages. However, in some states, you need to be 17 to buy emergency contraception. If you are in your 20s or older but look young, the pharmacist or sales associate may ask to see ID.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Plan B (0.75mg levonorgestrel) and Plan B One-Step (1.5 mg levonorgestrel) tablets information.

  2. World Health Organization. Emergency contraception.

  3. Center for Reproductive Rights. Tummino v. Hamburg.

  4. Yang YT, Sawicki NN. Pharmacies' duty to dispense emergency contraception: a discussion of religious liberty. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;129(3):551-553. doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000001894

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.