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EllaOne to be non-prescription under European plans

European plans to make the five-day emergency contraceptive ellaOne a non-prescription medicine are "good news for women", the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on Friday (November 21) that the contraceptive, which is effective for up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, could be used "safely and effectively without medical prescription" throughout the EU.

The MHRA told C+D the EMA's recommendation was "likely" to be adopted in the UK, and the RPS said it expected the drug to be available "on the advice of a pharmacist" from next year.

The EMA's assessment of the available information about ellaOne concluded that its safety profile was comparable to levonorgestrel-containing contraceptives, which are effective for up to 72 hours and are already available in the UK without a prescription.

EllaOne, which contains ulipristal acetate, is most effective if taken within 24 hours, the EMA said. Removing the need to obtain a prescription would "speed up women's access and therefore increase its effectiveness", it said. 

The EMA's recommendation will now be sent to the European Commission for a legally binding decision, it added.

RPS president Ash Soni said: "This reclassification is a benefit to public health as it widens the options for women at risk of unplanned pregnancy while maintaining professional standards of provision."

In 2012, the Co-operative Pharmacy became the first pharmacy to sell ellaOne without a prescription under a patient group direction.

How will the reclassification of ellaOne as non-prescription benefit patients? 

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