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Move to allow pharmacists supply contraception without a prescription welcomed

By Irish Pharmacist - 02nd Nov 2023

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has welcomed reports that the government is set to introduce legislation to allow pharmacists to supply contraception without prescription following a structured consultation. The IPU says this will provide easier and more convenient access to contraception.

Kathy Maher, Chair of IPU’s Pharmacy Contractors Committee (PCC), said: “Pharmacists have been campaigning for contraception to be made available direct from pharmacies for several years and this development will be warmly welcomed.

“Pharmacists are highly trained and experienced in contraceptive care, having supplied emergency hormonal contraception to women without a prescription for over a decade. Surveys have consistently shown that many women would prefer to access contraception direct from their pharmacy rather than requiring a GP visit and this proposed move increases the options for women. The WHO has stated that there is no clinical reason for the oral contraception to remain on a prescription only basis. Expanding the accessibility of contraception in this way will have a positive impact on Irish healthcare.

“According to a report by the National Women’s Council of Ireland the biggest barrier to contraception identified by service users was not financial constraints but a lack of access to services in their locality.

“This is a welcome first step to expand the healthcare provided in Irish pharmacies. The profession eagerly awaits the outcomes of the Minister for Health’s expert group on this subject which we hope will usher in a more comprehensive expansion of pharmacy care.”

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