10 Apr 2015

Call to make pill over-the-counter

5:13 pm on 10 April 2015

The contraceptive pill could be purchased over the counter without a prescription, if a proposal from a pharmacy chain is successful.

Prescription pills

Photo: AFP

Green Cross Health, which owns Unichem and Life Pharmacies, wants women to be able to buy the pill at pharmacies without a doctor's visit.

Green Cross Health professional services manager, Alison van Wyk, said the move would mean women could access the pill more easily and conveniently.

But the proposal is being met with some opposition.

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners warns that that the pill is not safe for all women.

Its President, Tim Malloy, said it could be risky, and he failed to see why the current system needed to change.

"The oral contraceptive is not a medication that you can consider to be entirely safe - there are consequences of being on the pill, there are some women for whom the pill may not be appropriate at all.

"These safety issues need to be addressed, and they need to be discussed with the patient, and a decision must be made to look at what form of contraception is appropriate for that individual."

However, Ms van Wyk said pharmacists would ensure that women are referred to a GP immediately if there are any concerns about whether it is appropriate for them.

Family Planning said the proposal will not help those who need to get it most.

National medical adviser Dr Christine Roke said because the service at pharmacies would cost, it would not help the right people.

Dr Roke said phone consultations or nurse prescribing would be more effective options.

Ms van Wyk said the Medicines Classification Committee would consider the proposal in May.

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