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Tories attack plans for pharmacists to give out pill

13 December 2007

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A Conservative MP has attacked government moves to give pharmacists and nurses the power to hand out the contraceptive pill without a prescription.

Strategic health authorities (SHAs) may be allowed to issue patient group directions (PGDs) to suitably-trained people such as pharmacists, meaning under-16s could get the birth control method after a simple consultation.

But Mid-Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries said chemists are not be able to carry out the same checks as family doctors before prescribing the pill.

“The contraceptive pill is known for causing blood clotting and thrombosis,” she said.

“Every GP assesses whether someone’s going to be susceptible to that.

“There are tests that GPs do to check whether people are susceptible to blood clotting.

“A pharmacist will also not know the family history with breast cancer, or the person’s mental history.”

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “There is no change to government policy – we have no plans to make oral contraception available over-the-counter.

“In order for a medicine to be made available over-the-counter, the manufacturers would have to apply to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for the product to be reclassified – this has not happened.

“However, we recognise that pharmacies could play an increased role in the provision of contraception and other sexual health services, because of their accessibility and convenient opening hours.”

Department of Health

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