The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has started consultation on giving a Pharmacy (‘P’) licence to progestogen-only contraceptive pills – Lovima and Hana.
If ‘P’ licence is granted, this will be for the first time this form of contraception could be available in pharmacies without the need for a prescription.
“This is the first time such a change has been considered, making it important that the public’s views are heard,” the MHRA said.
The consultation affects two products containing desogestrel – Lovima 75 microgram film-coated tablets and Hana 75 microgram film-coated tablets.
Lovima and Hana are both oral contraceptives for continuous use to prevent pregnancy in those of childbearing age.
The public has enough time until March 5 to respond to the consultation on the potential reclassification of desogestrel to a pharmacy medicine.
As of now, the contraceptive pills containing desogestrel are still available on prescription from GPs and sexual health clinics.
“We are asking the public and stakeholders for their views on whether these two products should become a pharmacy medicine and available over the counter, without a medical prescription,” the regulator said.
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.”
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has welcomed the MHRA’s consultation on giving a ‘P’ licence to progestogen-only contraceptive pills.
RPS president Sandra Gidley said: “The Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomes the MHRA’s consultation which could allow a progestogen-only contraceptive pill to be provided directly to women by pharmacists without a prescription.
“Pharmacies already play an important role in the provision of contraception and are a convenient, expert source of help and advice. This move will increase access to an effective method of contraception and enable women to make an informed choice about their needs after discussion with a pharmacist.
“Whilst this classification is a positive move, ultimately we’d like to see contraceptive services commissioned by the NHS through pharmacies so many more people can benefit from another point of access to contraception and advice.”
The progestogen-only pill is generally well tolerated and side effects are rare. It is very safe to take, but as with every medicine, there may be a reason why it wouldn’t suit you. Your pharmacist will help you decide, the RPS has said.