Sunday 26 March 2017

Morning-after pill: we can't turn pharmacists into police officers

Sexual function should be a health issue for the State -- and only ever a health issue, writes Emer O'Kelly

THE Irish Medicines Board has licensed the "morning after" contraceptive pill for sale over the counter in pharmacies without prescription. It's a massive step forward; or it should be.

Apart from anything else, the move will reduce the price of the emergency contraceptive pill from €45 to under €10.

But already the caveats are emerging, the quagmire is starting to bubble, and the seedlings of uncertainty are being carefully nurtured to ensure doubt, equivocation, and an "Irish solution to an Irish problem" which, once again, will probably leave an undignified lack of answerable certainty for pharmacists as much as for women who fear they may be unintentionally pregnant. The morning-after pill in Ireland comes in the form of two brand named drugs called NorLevo and Levonelle. Until now, Levonelle has had a more than 90 per cent market share. And until now, both have only been available on prescription from a doctor.

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