Medical Q&As

The pill - changed by pharmacist?

My wife was given a prescription for a contraceptive pill called Microgynon 30 and handed this to the pharmacist. He presented her with Ovranette. I challenged him only to be told that Microgynon 30 was no longer on the market and her doctor should have known, and that the Ovranette are the same. My wife has only used Microgynon 30 and is concerned about switching. She has recently had a baby and does not want to switch contraceptive pills. Could you advise if the chemist or doctor is right? Furthermore should a pharmacist switch the medication without referring my wife back to her GP?

Microgynon 30 and Ovranette are identical products, albeit manufactured by different companies. They both contain the exact same amount of identical hormones, namely ethinyloestradiol and levonorgestrel. Therefore your wife’s level of contraception has not been impaired in any way by switching to the different brand of pill. Microgynon 30 has not been removed from the Irish market and it is still listed in MIMS, which is the publication that lists the full range of ethical products available on prescription in Ireland. However, sometimes there can be a supply difficulty with a particular product and in your wife’s case the substitution of Ovranette was perfectly reasonable. It would not have been necessary for the pharmacist to refer your wife back to her GP in order to sanction the dispensing of a different brand of an identical product.