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Over-the-counter emergency contraception

Over-the-counter emergency contraception: a feasible option

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  • Catriona I. Matheson
  • Blair H. Smith
  • Gillian Flett
  • Christine M. Bond
  • Emily J. Kennedy
  • Charles Michie
  • Iain Duthie

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-43
Number of pages6
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1998


Background. The high number of unintended pregnancies and terminations in Britain indicates that women who could use emergency contraception do not. Knowledge of access to sources of emergency contraception is limited. Oral administration of combined oestrogen-progestogen is safe and does not require routine physical administration, and there are proposals to re-regulate this from a prescription-only medicine to a pharmacy medicine, available over the counter in community pharmacies under the supervision of a pharmacist.

Objectives. We aimed to demonstrate that the availability of combined, oral oestrogen-progestogen under the supervision of the community pharmacist would be safe and effective.

Method. Guidelines were developed by a multidisciplinary group incorporating pharmacists, GPs, a pharmacologist and a consultant in family planning. The guidelines were based on published evidence, where possible.

Conclusion. Guidelines have been developed to accompany the provision of combined, oral oestrogen-progestogen which demonstrate that over-the-counter availability could be a safe and effective method of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in Britain.



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