The morning after pill can now be purchased without prescription from all pharmacies in Ireland, after the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) approved licensing a brand of emergency contraception for use as an over-the-counter medicine.
IMB had recently informed the Boots pharmacy chain that it was breaking the law by making the morning after pill available without prescription. Boots began supplying customers with the drug in what they described as “patient group directions” in January, but the board has just said that no provision for this operation in Irish legislation.
“The position of the IMB, as the regulatory authority, is that the supply of prescription-only medicines under patient group directions is unlawful,” it said.
Following this, news emerged yesterday that the manufacturers of NorLevo, which is a brand licensed for use in Ireland, lodged an application last month to have its drug made available over the counter after witnessing the demand for non-prescription emergency contraception in Boots.
Their application was accepted and now NorLevo can be sold over the counter in pharmacies. The drug can be bought for as little as €9.99 ($13.50).
The Irish Pharmaceutical Society (IPU) has welcomed the move. Kathy Maher, a Meath-based pharmacist and member of the IPU's Executive Committee said, “Women in Ireland will now have prompt access to Emergency Hormonal Contraception.
“Community pharmacists are health care professionals with the skills and competence to dispense this medicine to patients, where appropriate and to provide relevant advice. Patient safety and personal sensitivity are paramount,” she told RTE News.
“As a profession we are committed and capable of delivering appropriate care for our patients.”