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Morning after pill: Medical card holders to get access without prescription

Pharmacists have argued that prescription requirements limited medical card holders’ access to the contraceptive.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

THE MINISTER FOR Health Simon Harris has announced this morning that those with medical cards will have access to emergency contraception directly from their pharmacies free of charge.

Pharmacists have been supplying emergency contraception to women without a prescription since 2011, but women with medical cards still have to go to their GP if they wish to get the medicine.

Ahead of speaking at the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) this morning, Harris said:

“[I'm] announcing this morning that access to emergency contraception directly through the pharmacy will be available on the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme from July.”

All women – regardless of means – should have access to emergency contraception through their pharmacy. This measure will ensure this.

The IPU described the announcement as “very welcome”.

Today’s announcement by Minister Harris means that, from July, community pharmacists will be able to dispense emergency oral contraceptives directly to GMS patients without their having to go to their GP first, or to have to pay for the medicine that they would otherwise be entitled to, free of charge.

Figures indicate that 22% of women who avail of the emergency contraceptive services in pharmacies have a medical card.

Emergency contraceptives, such as Norlevo and ellaOne, can be taken 3-5 days after intercourse to prevent pregnancy.

Read: Pharmacists want women with medical cards to have easier access to the morning after pill

Read: Irish women can now buy the most effective morning-after pill without a prescription

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