Call for morning after pill to be OTC

Pharmacists should be allowed to provide the 'morning after pill' to patients without a doctor's prescription, the Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU) has insisted.

The pill, Levonelle, has been licensed for use in this country since late 2001. However currently, those who wish to use it must have a doctor's prescription. Pharmacists believe that the drug should be available over the counter, as is the case in the UK.

The morning after pill is only available in Ireland with a doctor's prescription

According to IPU president, Michael Guckian, many people come into pharmacies at the weekend 'urgently' looking for the morning after pill. Some of these, he pointed out, 'find it difficult to get an appointment with their GP at the weekend'.

However pharmacists are available at weekends and already provide advice to patients on a wide range of sexual health issues, Mr Guckian said.

He referred to an study published in the British Medical Journal last year, which found that making the morning after pill available directly from pharmacists in the UK did not lead to an increase in its use or to a decrease in the use of other forms of contraception.

Mr Guckian emphasised that enabling Irish pharmacists to provide the drug over the counter would only be done with appropriate counselling and within agreed protocols. The morning after pill should never be the only form of contraception used, he added.

Prior to Levonelle's approval here in 2001, doctors and clinics, at their discretion, gave women four high dose oestrogen pills. These had to be taken within 72 hours of having sex and often made patients feel sick.

The Irish Medicines Board had previously refused to licence Levonelle because it viewed it as an 'abortifacient' (a drug that induces an abortion or miscarriage). However after consulting with medical and legal experts, it approved the drug for use in Ireland in November 2001.


beelzebub - 11/08/2006 17:57

Don't often find myself agreeing with the pharmacists, but this is just plain nuts. Time to stop treating people like silly little kids and allow them to sort out their own sexual health issues for themselves. Anyone who's ever had the pleasure of trying to find their own GP out of hours (when most emergency contraceptive situations arise!) will know how daft this all is. Also, there are lots and lots of women who don't have an extra 50 or 60 euros to spare on top of the prescription fee and medicines cost for the honour of having a doctor sign a piece of paper "allowing" you to take en emergency contraceptive. Let's not forget it's not that long since condoms were banned as well, and even married couples had to go, cap in hand (if you'll pardon the phrase) to the local GP in order to get a "prescription" for a thin sheet of rubber. The current situation is not much less absurd.

Dee - 17/08/2006 10:07

Well Said! I couldnt have put it in better words myself.

liam(lcollins) - 30/08/2006 00:54

i ask where have female virtues gone,????????????? , dont they save themselves for mister right andmore, or is this too enroaching on their sexual freedom, females have been given too much leeway, and are not able to handel it becaust they cant, it seems that radical fundamentalists regarding religious situations are on top of the situation more than the so called liberated west.

Annalu - 11/04/2008 16:09

I hope your knuckles don't hurt too much from dragging off the ground. This isn't the 1940's anymore, women no longer have to endure unwanted pregnancies. I doubt you waited till you got married to have sex.

kia! - 14/04/2008 12:21

i agree that the moring after pill should be available over the counter as i had a scare myself on a saturday of a bank holiday weekend, so by the time i would have made it to the doctors it prob would have been too late. i just took 2 pills and hoped for the best it was the most worrying week ever but luckily i got my period, so was safe but i think definitly that there should be a system in place that you can purchase it in a chemist without perscription, but in saying that i can see why its not available over the counter, people may start using it as a constant contraceptive rather than an emergency contraceptive. but all in all i believe it should be available over the counter!

Amazed - 16/04/2008 17:39

Kia, Taking 2 pills certainly is not what got you out of that near miss. How silly of you to risk it. You can always get a G.P. on call anywhere in this country. It doesn't cost you any more than the consultation cost which in most cases, is the cost of the tablet in the Pharmacy but at least, when you see a G.P. you get some screening.

kia! - 21/04/2008 12:03

amazed, my boyfriend tried the DOC on call but there was none there, a doctor had told my friend before that taking 2 pills is the same as the morning after pill,now im not saying that it is true or a fact but wen i am told something like that well it felt like an option to me. it did no harm but it was my only option at the time, an i agree wit u that it was a risk which is why the morning after pill should b available OTC.

barbie86 - 25/04/2008 23:21

In England the morning after pill has been available over the counter for some time. It doesn't encourage unprotected sex, it is there for when accidents happen. I've take it three times myself: none of which were because I was careless. It should most definitely be available over the counter in Ireland. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it is. The first time I took it, I had to get it from A&E (in England, most doctors surgeries and family planning clinics are shut at weekends, which is when most women need the morning after pill), and I waited nearly 5 hours. Each hour that passed meant that the pill was less effective. Being able to purchase it means women can get it as soon as they can get to a chemist, increasing its effective. In England I would actually like to see it offered free of charge over the counter: currently it is expensive, putting the most vulnerable (like teenagers) at risk. Kia: taking two pills does absolutely nothing I'm afraid: the 7-day rule still applies. That said, it's worth remembering that a missed pill doesn't mean you have no protection from pregnancy: it simply means that the protection is lowered. In other words, you'd be unlucky to get pregnant this way. But it's probably worth knowing for future

sugarplum fairy - 30/11/2009 21:13

As i am 18 in the eyes of many i may be seen as young and unresponsible.......i am currntly at home having researched on the intrenet the morning after pill as i am very much in need of it!!!! and i am shocked and angered that it is not available....with respect to the many people who have written on this blog that people are unresponsible getting themselves in this position....i did infact use protection it split.....!!!!!!!!!!!!i have never been in such a position to need this help before but in my opinion the fact that i am seeking it as a result of a mistake is in it self responsible as i have my whole life ahead of me i want to study law and have a no means possible is an 18 year old having a baby a good idea !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Crydoes anyone actually no where you can get levonelle

Nickname: to be used for all future posts.
Notification: Tick this box if you wish to receive e-mail notifications of further posts on this topic