Increased Access to Oral Contraceptives

Great News for New Zealand Women

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (The Society) is delighted with the announcement that selected oral contraceptives are to be reclassified to permit pharmacist supply in certain circumstances.

The Society believes this decision will provide a beneficial option for those eligible women who choose to take advantage of the convenience of seeing a trained pharmacist, at a time and location that suits them, and without an appointment.

“Improving access to contraception, lessening the risks and distress of unplanned pregnancy and empowering New Zealand women is hugely advantageous,” says Pharmaceutical Society President Graeme Smith.

“We are cognizant though, that women’s health is of paramount importance and access will be coupled with robust safeguards and a commitment to refer patients back to their doctor when needed.”

Comprehensive professional guidance and training is being prepared by The Society to support the safe and appropriate supply of the oral contraceptive by pharmacists. Pharmacist-permitted supply will be dependent upon a strict range of criteria, and women who are ineligible will be referred to their doctor.

Pharmacists will also be expected to highlight the importance of women maintaining their connection with their usual medical care provider by updating the woman’s GP of the supply with their consent, the alternative forms of contraception available from their doctor, as well as promotion of women’s health and sexual health messages.

The reclassification is expected to be published in the New Zealand Gazette by the end of February, and The Society is currently working with specialist experts to develop the training programme with the oral contraceptives becoming available for supply after this has gained Pharmacy Council approval within the next few months.

“There is a strict process to be followed and women won’t be able to access supplies from their pharmacist immediately,” Says Graeme.

Reclassification of the oral contraceptive pill is in keeping with the Government’s move to provide better access to medicines as set out in the Pharmacy Action Plan.

Pharmacists are increasingly taking on a range of extended health services to better meet the needs of their patients, through increased access and convenience.Recent examples include, Warfarin monitoring, antibiotics for urinary tract infections, medicines for erectile dysfunction and vaccinations.

“Feedback from patients about these new services is positive and independent research regarding warfarin monitoring indicates that it is producing better overall results than traditional monitoring methods,” Graeme says.