The contraceptive Pill could soon be sold over the counter without a prescription.
A move to make two brands available without written authorisation is under development, the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency stated.
The drugs companies concerned have asked for their progestogen-only contraceptive Pill to be reclassified from prescription to pharmacy products.
The move, which is the first of its kind, would allow over the counter sale under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist.
Drugs company Maxwellia is looking to make its Lovima contraceptive prescription free and HRA Pharma wants the same for its Hana Brand.
It’s been welcomed by consumer healthcare association PAGB, which described the move as a landmark opportunity in women’s health.
Chief executive Michelle Riddalls stated that they were fully backing the reclassification requests, shifting stocks from prescription-only to make them available over the counter, once their safety and efficacy have been rigorously evaluated and established, and that this was a positive move.
She said that it would allow people to self-care where appropriate, reducing inconvenience for people and protecting NHS resources such as GP appointments for those who require them most.
She continued that the applications by Maxwellia and HRA Pharma have special importance as they’re the first to seek over the counter licences for any kind of daily contraceptive Pill, 60 years after the Pill in its original form was made available via prescription on the NHS for married women only.
And that the MHRA consultation serves as a landmark moment in women’s health and one which they hope will be viewed positively.
A qualified pharmacist would supervise any purchase and use a checklist to identify women who can be safely supplied with the drug, and both brands would be available for women of childbearing age, which would also include adolescents who meet the criteria for supply.
The MHRA said that for under 18s, and especially those under 16, who needed the Pill it remained necessary to confirm that the girl was not being exploited or abused.
Around nine in ten women in England, around 3.1 million 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 prevent sperm from reaching an egg, and it needs to be taken reliably every day and is 99 per cent effective if taken correctly.
However, does this mean that it will cost more than the prescription price, and will the drug company’s get even more money, or is it a brilliant idea and the NHS will save a fortune now that they don’t have to subsidise it?
But then wouldn’t it be much cheaper to subsidise it, than unplanned or unwanted pregnancies in the long run? And the problem that I can see is the increase of single mums purchasing the Pill cheaper online without even knowing what they’re being supplied with.
And for some, the Pill can make you especially unwell, and is this a safe approach, especially when it influences mood, weight and health, and sometimes some colossal side effects, and this sounds like a lot of faffing about than simply visiting a GP and letting the professionals deal with it all, and also I wonder what the apothecaries think about being lumbered with all the additional work and responsibility.
And they’re saying that it will be a lot less strain on the NHS and GPs, but that’s not true because it’s usually the nurse that you go to see and then it’s put on repeat prescription if the type of contraceptive Pill you’ve been put on is effective and doesn’t cause any side effects, and usually, you’re asked some questions, such as, is there any history of cervical cancer in the family, and if so, then normally you’re not allowed to have the Pill, and another alternative is offered.