Oral contraceptive pill could be over-the-counter


For the first time, New Zealand women could soon be able to buy the contraceptive pill at a pharmacy without a doctor's prescription.

Drug regulator Medsafe is recommending a change to the classification of the pill to make it more freely available. After an initial doctor's consult, women would be able to refill their script for three years.

But the Medical Association doesn't go along with the proposed change.

Life Pharmacy's parent company has been lobbying the Government to reclassify the oral contraceptive pill for almost two years.

At the moment, people have to get a prescription from their doctor every six months. But soon they might be able to get it through their pharmacist, as long as they've been given a prescription for it within the past three years.

The New Zealand Medical Association doesn't think it's a good idea. It says the new policy would limit the opportunity for doctors to keep an eye on their patients.

"Quite coincidentally, the last patient I saw this afternoon told me how they went to their doctor for their renewal of the oral contraceptive and detected that their blood pressure was high," says Dr Stephen Child. "That was the only way their blood pressure was detected, when they went to get checked up."

But Green Cross believes there's an opportunity to get more women on the pill, even though it's not a done deal yet.

"There's an objection period up until February 9," says Alison Van Wyk from Green Cross. "There are some requirements we have to meet around training."

But for women thinking this could save them a lot of money, the pharmacy is still planning to charge $45 each time it dispenses the pill across the counter.

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