From today on the morning-after pill will be made available over the counter in Ireland for the first time in the history of the State.
Under a new initiative launched by Boots pharmacy chain, the medicine will be offered to patients without them having to see a doctor and get a prescription.
Prior to today woman in the Republic of Ireland who required emergency contraception had to go to their doctor for a prescription.
But the giant pharmacy chain discovered an amendment to legislation in 2005 which said that emergency contraception could be offered by pharmacists if they operated under a protocol drawn up by a doctor.
In the past, there had been repeated calls from the Irish Family Planning Association and other action groups for the morning-after pill to be made available over the counter.
Boots have announced that from today on, pharmacists will provide the emergency contraception at 49 of its 50 stores. Woman over the age of 18 years can purchase the medicine for a €45 charge, which is considerably cheaper than visiting a doctor.
Mary Rose Burke, chief pharmacist with Boots Ireland, said the amendment to the legislation was key in introducing the service.
“It provided that it wouldn’t be contrary to the legislation for a person to administer a medicine to another person provided they do so under written direction of a doctor,” she told the Irish Times.