Page last updated at 11:20 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Should pharmacies hand out the pill?

A pilot scheme allowing pharmacists to give women the contraceptive pill without a prescription has been given the go-ahead for next year.

Women and girls aged over 16 will be able to get the pill at two London primary care trusts, Southwark and Lewisham, Pulse magazine says.

If the pilots are successful, the pill could become available over the counter like the morning after pill.

This is what you had to say about the plans.


I am in my mid-twenties and would be over the moon to get the pill from a local chemist. At present I have to travel 10 miles to my doctors by bus (which takes over 40 minutes one way) to get my prescription and book my appointment a week in advance and that is for an appointment during work hours which is so inconvenient. It would be much more practical and I would trust any health professional with prescriptions, whether it be local GP, nurse, care worker or pharmacist. They are all trained to a high standard and if it's a pill you have had regularly then it should be quite straight forward.
Paula Nicholl, Peterborough

As a grandmother I am concerned about the young having easy access to the pill as it can cause problems, and encourage them to engage in sex and with more than one partner. STDs are rising and there is a further risk of HIV. Antibiotics are already failing to kill infections, and this will increase the problems. Would it not also be a good thing to do a yearly check on the young both boys and girls for these types of infections? If the government are going to encourage the young to engage in sex, they should also be protecting them from diseases caught in this way.
Kathleen Ranger, Fleet, Hampshire

Yes I do slightly agree with making the pill a bit more accessible to teenagers but not at the remark about it helping in preventing teenage pregnancies. If you tell a teenager, 'hey take this pill once a week and you won't get pregnant', it might just encourage them to have sex without a condom which may lead to more getting STIs and STDs.

Also puberty is hell as enough as it is without giving teenage girls hormones which could make them feel like they were going insane. I took the pill for one month and regretted it. For three weeks I had every side effect that it could give me and I literally felt like I was going mad.
Kim Baillie, Brechin, Angus

It's an excellent idea and I don't think the move can come sooner. I think once a woman has found the right kind of pill for her, she should not need to go to the doctor every time she runs out. A blood pressure test can be done very simply, which will free up doctor's time too. With condoms being so expensive, unreliable and for many couples, uncomfortable, I think that easier access to the pill will encourage young people to take more control over their sexual health.
A Jones, Bristol

I didn't like going to my GP to get the pill because they never had appointment that suited me. I had to take time off school or college, and I didn't know where the local family planning clinic was so couldn't go there. Being able to get the pill from a pharmacist would be a brilliant idea, and I'm sure a lot more girls would take the pill if it was so easily available. As long as safety procedures are in place such as monitoring blood pressure, I see no reason why prescribing the pill should be a job left in the realm of doctors. It would save so much time, both for patients and doctors.

My wife was given the pill by a doctor in her early twenties, but was not given proper warning about possible side effects. She put on nine stone in three years before anyone took any notice. If doctors aren't properly monitoring peoples reactions to drugs what chance is there that a pharmacist will, or even could with the number of different pharmacists around and the limited background information available to them?
G, Reading

The pill was made available and free to unmarried woman back in the late 60s to reduce the numbers of illegitimate children. Unfortunately the stigma of illegitimacy was removed at the same time and state help was given. If it had not, young women today would be as anxious to avoid pregnancy as I was before marriage! This is the difference between the UK and other countries with a lower birth rate among teenagers.
Lesley Worstencroft, London

The issue at stake is not whether pharmacists have the competence to prescribe, the issue is the safety provided for the patient by having one complete medical record. The GP's computerised system automatically flags-up any dangerous clashes between medications provided. There are a series of treatments which should not be used alongside certain types of the contraceptive pill. Splitting up patient care endangers them, by removing the safeguard of one, coherent medical file for each person.
GJ, Perth

I had major problems with two types of pill and was actually quite ill as a result. My doctor helped me with this over a number of consultations and now I'm on the right pill. I think it would be more responsible to make the pill available over the counter once a doctor has prescribed it so that women don't need to get repeat prescriptions. Based on my experience, it would be dangerous to make the entire process an over the counter affair.
Sarah Draper, London, UK

I think this is a very good move. Young women often are apprehensive to go to a doctor or nurse to get contraception prescribed, especially if it is a big issue to them. Being able to get it over the counter from a pharmacist would make it available to people who may otherwise be vulnerable to becoming pregnant because of using contraception with a higher risk or none at all. Education about contraception should be increased if this is imposed, with easy to read and good access to information, so there total understanding of side effects.

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