Women will be able to access some types of contraceptive pills in pharmacies without a prescription for the first time in the UK.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that it has reclassified Lovima and Hana, two 75 microgram progesterone-only contraceptives.
This means women will be able to access the pills over the counter after a consultation with a pharmacist, rather than via a GP appointment.
Development experts say is a “huge win for women and girls”
The president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), Dr Edward Morris expressed delight with the development.
He said: “We are delighted that all those who need the progestogen-only oral contraceptive pill (POP) can now go into their local pharmacy and access it without needing a prescription.
“This announcement is a huge win for women and girls who will no longer face unnecessary barriers when accessing this type of contraception.”
He added that even before the pandemic, many women were struggling to access basic feminine health services, resulting in an increased number of unplanned pregnancies.
Michelle Riddalls, chief executive of consumer healthcare association PAGB, described the decision as “a historic milestone for women”.
She said: “We warmly welcome this decision by the MHRA.
“Making these progestogen-only contraceptive pills available without prescription in the UK is a historic milestone for women and women’s health.
“This is the first time that any form of daily contraceptive pill has been licensed for over-the-counter sale in the UK, 60 years after the pill was originally offered by the NHS – initially to married women only.”
The progesterone-only pills contain desogestrel and can be taken safely by women who cannot use the standard contraceptive pill which contains oestrogen.
The reclassification means women will not need to make appointments with their GP to access the contraception, although they will still be available via this route and via sexual health clinics.