Britain's pharmaceutical society supports U.K.'s decision on oral contraception

LONDON The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain supports the U.K. Department of Health’s recent decision to pilot the availability of oral contraception through Patient Group Directions, which are written instructions for dispensing of medicines to groups of patients without a prescription, the association announced Wednesday.

There is a direct correlation in the United States to how the emergency contraception Plan B was available to consumers, before it was switched to a dual OTC/Rx status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year, in several states through a standing prescription, where pharmacists counseled patients and determined whether to dispense or not dispense the emergency contraceptive. The U.K. pilot may set the stage for consideration of oral contraceptives (not emergency contraceptives) in the U.S., especially as the FDA is currently researching the possible merits of a behind-the-counter system in this country.

“Pharmacists are experts in medicines and have a track record of supplying medicines such as emergency hormonal oral contraception via Patient Group Directions and also over-the-counter, stated David Pruce, director of practice and quality improvement at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. “As such, they have clinical skills and expertise that will help them provide information and advice to women to ensure the appropriate use of oral contraception.”

In addition, the supply of oral contraception via PGDs would widen and improve patient choice, access and convenience, he said. “The necessary health checks such as blood pressure testing and healthy lifestyle checks are already a part of pharmacist’s extended role.”

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