The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced today that progestogen-only contraceptive pills will be available in pharmacies in England. This is the first time that women will be able to access the progestogen-only pill over the counter in pharmacies, something we have recommended for many years.
Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:
“We are delighted that all those who need the progestogen-only oral contraceptive pill (POP) can now go into their local pharmacy and access it without needing a prescription. The RCOG has called for this for some time and it was a key recommendation of the College’s Better for Women report. This announcement is a huge win for women and girls who will no longer face unnecessary barriers when accessing this type of contraception.
“Even before the pandemic, too many women and girls were struggling to access basic women's health services. The consequences of this include an increase in the number of unplanned pregnancies, which can result in poorer outcomes for women and their babies. Enabling women and girls to access POP more easily and conveniently will give them more control over their reproductive health, which can only be a good thing.”
Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:
“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare fully supports the reclassification of progestogen-only pills to a pharmacy medicine, something we have recommended for many years.
“Progestogen-only contraceptive pills are safe, reliable, easy to use and are an incredibly popular contraceptive method. Availability over the counter in pharmacies will make it easier for women to access essential contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies during and beyond Covid-19. The fragmented Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare system is notoriously difficult for women to navigate, and successive cuts to Public Health budgets have made it harder for women to get the contraception they need. Reclassification may also reduce unnecessary pressures on GPs, who will not need to see patients for repeat prescriptions.
“However, reclassification of some brands is only the first step, and buying contraception should definitely not be the only solution. We are calling for these pills to be available to everyone for free in community pharmacies, as well as the reclassification of other contraceptives moving forward.”
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Notes to Editors
• Progesterone-only contraceptive pills containing desogestrel will be available to buy in pharmacies after a consultation with a pharmacist. Desogestrel contraceptive pills will still be available free of charge from a doctor, from commissioned services and sexual and reproductive health clinics.
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.
The RCOG is a medical charity that champions the provision of high-quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision.