Pharmacists call for 'morning-after pill' to be available over the counter

Pharmacists are renewing calls for the 'morning-after pill' to be available over the counter.

Pharmacists are renewing calls for the 'morning-after pill' to be available over the counter.

At present, women who wish to take emergency hormonal contraception require a prescription from a doctor.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said its members have the skills to dispense such drugs and provide appropriate advice and counselling to patients.

"It is important that patients get timely access to emergency hormonal contraception and many often find it difficult to get a prescription at the weekend," said spokesperson Kathy Maher, a pharmacist in Co Meath.

"Pharmacists should be able to provide such a service and this could be done with appropriate advice, counselling and within agreed protocols."

Ms Maher emphasised that the morning-after pill "should never be the only form of contraception used" and said pharmacists could also refer patients back to their GP where appropriate.

The IPU represents around 1,800 community pharmacists across the country.

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