Medicine wants over-the-counter access to the progestagen pill
Lorenzo Armenteros, Neus Caeles, Maria Blasco and Eduardo Satue.
Community pharmacy and family medicine came together on World Contraception Day to ask the Department of Health to release access to a progestin-only contraceptive pill. By removing the obligation to obtain a medical prescription to acquire the drug, as highlighted by the Spanish Society of Family and Community Pharmacy (Sefac), the Spanish Society of Primary Care Doctors (Semergen) and the Spanish Society of General Practitioners and the Family (SEMG ), access is also improved as a result adherence to treatmentsomething “key” for this drug to be effective.
“It was a work of several months in which the societies decided to take a step forward to improve access to contraception”, explains Eduardo Satue, coordinator of the position paper and vice-president of Sefac, who assures that “this is not a whim”but it comes from extensive analysis.
“Current access is broad but needs to continue to improve. it is necessary because there is a high percentage of unplanned pregnancies. it is safely because there are drugs with a high degree of reliability and almost no side effects. Forks efficient because they prevent pregnancy in a very effective way if taken immediately and in a timely manner, which is why we want no prescription required,” explains Satué.
Furthermore, for experts, contraception should not be seen as a health issue. “We need to stop seeing it as a pathology, it’s just a right of woman so you can decide when and how to have children. We need to strengthen it by societies and health authorities. We want over-the-counter progestagen drugs to be reclassified,” said Sefac’s vice president.
Minimize barriers to entry to improve their effectiveness
For Maria Blasko, coordinator of the women’s care group Semergen, women are the sole owners of their sexual and reproductive health. “It is the only one who has to make the decision, yes, always well informed by us. “One in four was at risk of unwanted pregnancy and in Spain in 2020 there were more than 8,000 unwanted terminations,” emphasizes the doctor.
In this sense, Blasco believes that Spanish health should “minimizing” barriers to access. “They don’t make sense after the woman has made the decision. There are many people who do not freely come to the pharmacy to be able to buy the contraceptives of their choice. We are talking about the second contraceptive method in Spain”, claims Blasco, who also recalls that this is in favor of the most vulnerable women.
“With this measure, we generate important social progress and can reduce the number of contraceptive inefficiencies. In this way, we increase the continuity of treatment and improve access”, the doctor specifies.
For their part, Sefac also wanted to emphasize the “safety” of the drug and the work that pharmacists can “take on”. “They are safe and effective drugs, but this they depend on taking the medicine every day. Therefore, it is very important to have easy access. You must think that accessing a medical service requires making an appointment to get a prescription. This not a health problem and it shouldn’t be necessary,” said Neus Caelles, a member of the Sefac Women’s Health group.
In this sense, the pharmaceutical company adds that the drug’s safety profile does not require it to be monitored by a doctor. “There are such countries England, where it is already given without a prescription in pharmacies. The aim is to have fewer unplanned pregnancies and for this access is essential. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports this,” explains Caelles.
According to the specialist, progestogen-only birth control pills have a “very high security profile and the side effects are very mild. In addition, Caelles recalls that in Spain we have a very wide network of pharmacies with trained professionals who have already taken up this challenge of dispensing contraception without a prescription. “The emergency pill has been taken since 2011. They are medically trained professionals and have organizations that ensure continuous training. Pharmacists can perfectly handle the dispensing of this pill”.
For his part, Lorenzo Armenteros, coordinator of SEMG’s Women’s Health Group, wanted to highlight this with the joint document “open the door” to a “different” model of aid. “It’s a shared aid that’s different from what’s been done before. We propose the model of the work paradigm of the future. We put women as the axis and work around them. We not only want to be at the point of decision making, but also follow through and educate. This is why the collaboration of Pharmacy and Family is essential. We are key axes of public health”.
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