Should two desogestrel contraceptive pills switch from POM to P?
The MHRA is seeking views on whether to make desogestrel contraceptive pills Lovima and Hana available to women directly from pharmacists, without a prescription.
The consultations on reclassifying Hana 75 microgram film-coated tablets and Lovima 75 microgram film-coated tablets from prescription-only medicines (POM) to pharmacy (P) medicines closes on March 5.
While the two consultations are separate, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) “will consider responses that relate to the active ingredient (desogestrel) as applying to both products, even if views are only submitted for one”, the regulator said launching the consultations last month.
“If these two products are reclassified, pharmacists will have access to training materials and a checklist to enable them to identify women who can be supplied this medicine safely,” it added.
“Contraceptive pills containing desogestrel will still be available on prescription from GPs and sexual health clinics,” the MHRA explained, and women “may opt to switch between methods of supply”.
“Strong support” from stakeholders
In initial consultations with stakeholders, the MHRA said there was “strong support from all…for making [desogestrel] available to purchase from pharmacies in addition to being available through sexual health clinics and GPs on prescription”.
The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) Professional Practice Group – which is responding to the consultations on behalf the large multiples and supermarket pharmacies – told C+D it is supportive of plans to make more sexual health services available through community pharmacy and repeated its call for a nationally commissioned service.
Should the pills be reclassified, as well as training for pharmacy teams, “there may be a role for the General Pharmaceutical Council to reissue their guidance on personal values and beliefs to support this”, the group suggested.
“We would not like to see women face any unintended barriers to access, whether that be through cost or local availability,” it said.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) also welcomed the MHRA consultations, with president Sandra Gidley stating: “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.”
The RPS also called for a nationally commissioned pharmacy contraceptive service, “so many more people can benefit from another point of access to contraception and advice”, Ms Gidley added.