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

They want medical card holders to be able to get the pill over the counter without having to go to a doctor first.

Image: Remy de la Mauviniere/AP/PA

PHARMACISTS HAVE CALLED on the HSE to make the morning after pill available to women with medical cards directly from their pharmacy free of charge.

Pharmacists have been allowed to supply the emergency contraceptive Norolevo to women without a prescription since 2011. However women with medical cards still have to go to their GP if they wish to get the medicine free of charge.

At the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) national conference in Killarney today, President Kathy Maher said the effectiveness of emergency contraception diminishes between the time of unprotected sex and the time of taking it and this emphasises the need for convenience and accessibility.

  • 77% of pharmacy consultations about the morning after pill occur within 24 hours of unprotected sex and pharmacists say this shows the value of having the medicine available to women as soon as they need it.
  • 22% of women who avail of the emergency contraceptive services in pharmacies have a medical card.

Pharmacists claim that making women with medical cards attend their doctor for a prescription in order to obtain the pill free of charge is “farcical, discriminatory and unacceptable”.

“It is unacceptable that a medicine, which is known to be most effective within a 24-hour period, cannot be accessed immediately free-of-charge by women with a medical card. The delay in accessing treatment for GMS patients is a huge concern, given the potentially far-reaching and life-changing consequences of an unplanned pregnancy,” Maher said today.

“This situation discriminates against women with a medical card over private female patients and needs to be changed as soon as possible.”

Pharmacists today passed a motion at their National Conference calling on the HSE to put a mechanism in place “to make emergency hormonal contraception available to women with medical cards directly from the community pharmacy.”

Read: Can a woman’s weight affect the success of the morning-after pill?>

Column: What you don’t know about emergency contraception (and why it might hurt you)>

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