Medical Card Holders to get Morning-After Pill Without Prescription


Health Minister Simon Harris has decided that the “morning after” pill should be made available to medical card holders through pharmacies. They will no longer have to first visit a GP for a prescription.


Five years ago restrictions on the drug’s availability were lifted for private patients after it was decided it could be purchased over the counter from pharmacies.


Pharmacists have since lobbied for changes to be made for medical card holders who are usually on lower incomes.


The easier access for medical card holders is due to come into effect in July. Mr Harris is of the view that this will remove an anomaly which unfairly affects women who are medical card holders.


Pharmacists have said that their own surveys found that 77 per cent of consultations with women seeking the pill take place within 24 hours of sexual intercourse. More than a fifth of those surveyed were medical card holders.


A majority of pharmacists reported they have been asked for the morning-after pill since it became available over the counter.


A survey found that the age of patients asking for the drug ranged from 16 to 40, with younger patients aged 20 to 25 among those most commonly looking to purchase it.


In the US the morning-after pill is becoming even more readily available without safeguards. Students at UC Davies University in California can now purchase the pill from a vending machine on campus.


The “Wellness to Go” machine sells the morning-after pill (known as Plan B in the States) as well as condoms, sanitary products and painkillers. “I believe most of the college students are sexually active on college campus, which means we should have more resources and more talk on these issues, decreasing the stigma,” said Parteek Singh, 21, the student who spearheaded the move to install the vending machine.


In America, the morning-after pill became available to women of all ages without prescription in 2013.


In the UK, BPAS, the country’s largest abortion provider, has called for the pill to be sold off the shelf like aspirin, which opponents say would present real dangers to the women involved.

Irish Independent. May 5. LifeNews. April 27.

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