Guild welcomes pre-election commitment from Victorian Liberals to legislate for OTC oral contraceptives

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has welcomed the announcement by the Victorian Liberal Party that it will improve access to the oral contraceptive pill by making them available over-the-counter after an initial prescription is dispensed. 

Under the Victorian coalition plan, after the initial provision of a prescription from a doctor, women would have the choice to be able to access the oral contraceptive from a community pharmacy under a pharmacist-dispensed non-prescription model.

Making the announcement over the weekend, Shadow Minister for Health, Mary Wooldridge, said: “Victorian women will become the first in Australia to have access to the pill without the ongoing need for a prescription”.

“Making the pill available in pharmacies, after consultation with a pharmacist, will make it easier for a woman to access ongoing supply, improving adherence and ultimately fewer unintended pregnancies,” she said. “Women will be required to visit their GP in the first instance where a doctor will be able to conduct relevant health and family history checks to identify pre-existing risks.

Following the initial prescription women will be able to access future courses of the pill from their local pharmacist, with appropriate consultation and screening”.

Victorian Guild president Anthony Tassone welcomed the move, saying, “being able to provide oral contraceptives under a pharmacist dispensed non-prescription model would ensure women have more choice and improved access to ongoing supply, greater adherence and a lower chance of unplanned pregnancy.

“The Guild stands ready to collaborate with other stakeholders and health professionals to help guide the implementation of this initiative that is a win for women and for the broader health system.”

The initiative follows similar moves in countries such as New Zealand, parts of the United States and the United Kingdom where additionally trained pharmacists undertake specific patient screening to provide over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives.

International evidence has shown patients to be very satisfied with these initiatives, the Guild says.

“The Victorian Coalition plan provides a safe and accessible alternative for women to safely and appropriately access oral contraception from their medicine expert, a pharmacist after the initial prescribing by their general practitioner,” Mr Tassone said.