Over the counter contraceptive pill: perhaps a simple compromise would help?

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The Government is considering a proposal for contraceptive pills to be sold over the counter by pharmacists without a doctor’s prescription.

Government drug agency Medsafe’s medicines classification committee will today consider a submission which proposes making selected oral contraceptive pills available without a GP’s prescription.

The submission from Green Cross Health says consumer research shows women in New Zealand, Australia and the United States want non-prescription access to contraceptives.

Its submission says women would benefit from immediate access to contraception and reclassification of the drug would reduce the barriers to starting contraception.

Green Cross says current over-the-counter access to the emergency contraception pill provides a model of care for how contraception would be supplied.

The proposal says women will benefit from the accessibility and convenience of getting oral contraceptives without a prescription from the pharmacy.

It cites the longer opening hours of chemists in comparison to GPs, their convenient locations and the ability to walk in without an appointment as factors women will appreciate.

“Reclassification means that when a woman runs out of her tablets she can access more without a prescription and does not risk missing tablets,” says the submission.

Here’s a simple solution for everyone. ?Give doctors the ability to write scripts for repeats up to two years. ?This means the woman doesn’t have to go through the inconvenience and cost of seeing a GP every 90 days for no other reason than to get a repeat script.

Of course, some GPs already do this – you can request a repeat script to be written and it can be collected for a fee. ?And if the GP isn’t happy about just rolling the script over, s/he can ask to see you.

But that still generates cost, wastes valuable resources and is over the top.

For women who are in peak condition, the GP simply writes out a 2 year script. ? For women?who require monitoring due to some concern that could be affected by the pill, it remains business as usual.

Easy peasy.

On the other hand, Australia has permitted OTC contraceptive pills via pharmacies for about three years now, and there are no reports of that having gone poorly. ? Time for pragmatic government action rather than protecting the bread and butter of GPs.

– NZN, 3 News

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