The TGA Won’t Allow Birth Control Pills To Be Sold Over The Counter Without A Prescription
The decision has been slammed by the Pharmacy Guild.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has slammed the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) decision to block the contraceptive pill from being sold over the counter.
Two proposals sent to the TGA asked for considerations to be made that would allow people to be sold the pill if they can prove they have been prescribed the same pill within the last two years. After a consultation with the patient, the pharmacist would then be able to issue the contraceptive or refer the patient back to their GP if they believe the script is not the right contraceptive choice anymore.
This would effectively halve the frequency in which patients need to visit their GP to obtain a new prescription.
As it currently stands, all variations of the contraceptive pill are prescription-only. These medications can only be prescribed for a total of three repeats at a time, meaning patients are required to visit their GP at least once per year. However, the TGA has blocked both applications — which asked to consider reclassifying some of the ingredients found in contraceptive pills so they could be sold as pharmacist-only medication.
There are already a slew of pharmacist-only medications available over-the-counter that can be sold after a consultation with the on-duty pharmacist.
Back in September, the TGA cited the risk vs benefits of over-the-counter contraceptives as a reason for blocking the proposals. “The use of oral contraceptive pills can cause significant adverse effects that are not consistent with over the counter medicines,” the TGA argued.
Natalie Willis from the Pharmacy Guild asserted the decision is “a tad insulting” to both women and pharmacists, citing accessibility as a major reason why it should go ahead.
“It’s saying exactly that about women that they’re not intelligent or informed enough to make these decisions on their own behalf and ask questions where they need to,” she said in a statement. “And it’s saying the same thing about pharmacists, that we’re not appropriately trained and qualified to be able to ask and answer those questions ourselves, to make sure a medication is appropriate to someone we’re supplying it to.
“In both instances, that point of view is ridiculous.”
The AMA Approves The TGA Decision
While the decision has been slammed by the Pharmacy Guild, it’s worth noting that the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has backed the TGA’s decision.
“Retail pharmacies are not appropriate private clinical settings for anyone to monitor and manage their contraceptive health, or to discuss details of sexual health and medical history,” AMA president Omar Khorshid said in a statement. “Pharmacists, while experts in medicines, are not qualified to make clinical assessments.
“Taking the oral contraceptive pill is not without risks, and people need to talk to their GP about which contraceptive option is right for them. It can take a long time to determine which contraceptive pill is appropriate, and this is best done under the advice of a doctor.”
While the move to make contraceptives available over-the-counter has been blocked, it is worth noting that there are companies like Kin Fertility, which offers online consultation and pill delivery, making it easier to access contraceptives.