Contraceptive Pill to be sold over-the-counter without a prescription

Contraceptive pills will be sold over-the-counter without a prescription for first time ever as drug watchdog approves plan for two different brands

  • Women will be able to access Pill without written authorisation free of charge
  • Open to women of child-bearing age under supervision of qualified pharmacist
  • Follows a safety review and public consultation by the UK’s medicines watchdoh

Women in Britain will soon be able to buy the Pill over the counter without a prescription.

Regulators have approved two brands of the contraceptive – known as Lovima and Hana – to be made available without written authorisation.

The move, the first of its kind, will allow women to access the Pill free of charge under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist. 

Both brands will be available for women of child-bearing age, which would also include adolescents who meet the criteria for supply.

It follows a safety review and public consultation launched by the Medicines and and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency earlier this year.   

The decision has been welcomed by consumer healthcare association PAGB, which described the move as a ‘historic milestone for women’s health’.

MPs said the change will reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and abortions and relieve some pressure from GP surgeries and sexual health clinics.

Regulators have approved two brands of the contraceptive Pill – known as Lovima and Hana – to be made available without a prescription

PAGB chief executive Michelle Riddalls said: ‘We warmly welcome this decision by the MHRA. Making these progestogen-only contraceptive pills available without prescription in the UK is an historic milestone for women and women’s health.

‘This is the first time that any form of daily contraceptive pill has been licensed for over-the-counter sale in the UK, 60 years after the pill was originally offered by the NHS – initially to married women only.

‘Enabling women to buy the progestogen-only pill in pharmacies will be particularly beneficial at a time when accessing sexual health services has become more challenging in parts of the UK because of pressure on NHS resources and the Covid pandemic.’ 

A qualified pharmacist will oversee any sale and use a checklist to identify women who can be safely supplied with the medicine. 

The MHRA said that for under 18s, and especially those under 16, who wanted the Pill it remained ‘essential to establish that the girl is not being exploited or abused’.

Almost nine in ten women in England – around 3.1million – who are on contraception take the Pill, figures from 2018 show.

The ‘traditional’ progestogen-only Pill prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix to stop sperm reaching an egg. 

It needs to be taken reliably every day and is 99 per cent effective if taken correctly.

The Lovima and Hana Pills also contain desogestrel, which can help to stop ovulation.    

Public health minister Jo Churchil said: ‘This landmark reclassification, which was widely supported by women and healthcare professionals in the recent consultation, will enable women to purchase a progestogen-only contraceptive from a pharmacy following a detailed consultation with the pharmacist.

‘This will provide an additional route to access for those seeking contraceptive services and will help to reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and sexual health clinics with the potential to reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. 

‘Pharmacists already provide a range of services in the area of sexual and reproductive health and are trained practitioners who are experienced in checking eligibility for all the products they supply.’

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