Canadian Pharmacists Association

Canadian Pharmacists Association

May 15, 2008 14:50 ET

Pharmacists Disappointed by Emergency Contraception Decision

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 15, 2008) - The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) does not support the decision to move emergency contraception pills (ECP) onto front store pharmacy shelves. The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, based on a recommendation from a national advisory committee, today decided to move levonorgestrel, also known as Plan B®, from behind the pharmacy counter, where sale required consultation with a pharmacist.

According to Janet Cooper, CPhA's Senior Director of Professional Affairs, "Health Canada's decision in 2005 to take emergency contraception off prescription status was based on the need to have a trained health professional provide advice on the appropriate use of ECP."

The experience of Canadian pharmacists has shown that many women requesting ECP do not actually need to take the medication, as they are not at risk of pregnancy or the timing for emergency contraception to work has passed. Even more importantly, studies have reported that women frequently have misconceptions and questions about ECP and their contraceptive methods. When providing Plan B, pharmacists provide information about birth control and safe sex, and often refer women to other health care providers for ongoing care.

Ms. Cooper continued, "There is no evidence supporting the claim that Schedule II status has impaired access to ECP. In fact, Canada will be the only country providing the drug so openly. What will be lost is the opportunity for a pharmacist to use consultation on emergency contraception as a bridge to a referral to other health care providers, when needed, as well as providing important education regarding contraception and reproductive health."

Despite this change, we believe that women - particularly teenagers - considering emergency contraception should consult with a pharmacist or other health care provider to see if it is right for them.

CPhA is also disappointed by the lack of an open and transparent consultation with health professionals on this issue. We believe that such decisions should be both evidence-based and socially responsible.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association is the national organization of pharmacists, committed to providing leadership for the profession and improving the health of Canadians.

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