These contraceptive pills may soon be sold over the counter for the first time

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 4:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th February 2021, 4:32 pm
Two types of contraceptive pills may soon be sold over the counter for the first time (Photo: Getty Images)

Two types of contraceptive pills may soon be sold over the counter for the first time in the UK following public consultation.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking for views on the potential reclassification of two progestogen-only contraceptive pills.

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Which pills may be available?

The two medicines being considered for over the counter sales are Lovima 75 microgram-film coated tablets and hana 75 microgram film-coated tablets, both of which contain desogestrel.

If they are reclassified, it will mark the first time daily contraceptive pills are available over the counter at a pharmacy.

The MHRA is asking the public for their views on whether the two products should be made a pharmacy medicine that can be purchased without a medical prescription.

Contraceptive pills containing desogestrel will also continue to be available from GPs and at sexual health clinics.

If the medicines are reclassified, pharmacists will have access to training materials and a checklist to enable them to identify women who can be supplied this medicine safely.

Dr Sarah Branch, director of vigilance and risk management of medicines at the MHRA, said: “Every response received will help us gain a better picture of whether people think the contraceptive pill with desogestrel should be available over the counter.

“We hope to hear from as many people and women’s groups as possible.”

Consultations about the medicines will be open until 5 March, with a separate consultation to be made for each product. Further details on these can be found via the following links:

‘A positive step’

The proposals have been labelled a “positive step” by PAGB, a consumer health care association, with the body statiting it fully supports the reclassification.

Michelle Riddals, chief executive of PAGB, said: “The MHRA consultation represents a landmark opportunity in women’s health and one which we hope will be viewed positively.

“Both Maxwellia and HRA Pharma have asked the MHRA to permit the sale of their progestogen-only pill products under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist.

“As expert healthcare professionals, pharmacists are fully equipped to offer advice to anyone seeking information about over-the-counter medicines.”

It hailed the applications’ “particular significance as they are the first to seek over-the-counter licences for any form of daily contraceptive pill, 60 years after the pill in its original form was made available via prescription on the NHS for married women only”.