Women who require the morning after pill can now obtain it from any pharmacy without prescription, following a decision by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB).
Last month, the Boots pharmacy chain made the formerly prescription-only pill available over the counter (OTC). This new service was launched under a patient group direction (PGD), which allows Boots pharmacists to provide a range of clinical services, including medical treatments.
It comprised of a one-to-one consultation with a pharmacist, provision of the medicine and advice on long-term contraception and sexual health at a total cost of €45.
However, after seeing the demand for this service, the pharmaceutical company, HRA Pharma, lodged an application to have its morning after pill, NorLevo, made available OTC. NorLevo is one of two morning after pills currently available in Ireland. The other is Levonelle.
Yesterday, the IMB approved the sale of NorLevo as an OTC medicine and this ruling comes into effect from today. It has emerged that this pill, which is available in over 50 countries worldwide, could cost as little as €9.99.
The Irish Pharmacy Union, which represents 1,600 pharmacists, has welcomed the move. It pointed out that it has 'repeatedly' called for this step and described it as a 'landmark decision' for women in Ireland.
The morning after pill can prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.