Over-the-counter emergency contraception: a feasible option

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    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.

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


    • Emergency contraception
    • Guidelines
    • Over-the-counter


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