Folks in Arizona Are Buying Birth Control on the Black Market

There's a new kind of drug on the black market that won't get you high but might get you accidentally pregnant: (faulty) birth control.

Phoenix's CBS 5 went undercover in some of the city's yerberias — small stores that sell over-the-counter, natural remedies like herbs and vitamins — and bought four different kinds of contraceptives for $20 each, without a prescription.

When the reporters showed Hal Wand, the executive director of the Arizona Board of Pharmacy, the pills and injection they acquired — some with Spanish instructions, others without instructions at all — he said the yerberias were breaking the law on a few different levels: it's a federal offense not to provide English labels, and it's illegal to sell prescription drugs without a license. "There could be a $1,000 fine for each item that was sold or had been stocked at the place," said Wand, who vowed to "investigate all the yerberias in the state that we can find."

The yerberias definitely shouldn't be selling sketchy contraception — Wand said some of the pills might not even be birth control to begin with, or they could be expired and therefore useless. One doctor told CBS 5 that she's had a patient who got pregnant after relying on a Yerberia for her contraceptive care. But there's a gigantic angle completely missing from this story: hmm, why would women want or need to buy cheap birth control? Maybe because they can't afford the real stuff, which can cost upwards of $50 without insurance, and often still more than $20 even for those who actually have medical coverage. For those women, it might be worth the risk to buy shady pills and pray they'll work than not to take anything at all.

CBS 5 goes undercover to investigate black market birth control [CBS 5]