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Medical Republic on Oral Contraceptive pill now being down scheduled and issuance permitted by pharmacists

Down scheduling of the pill

In this article, published in Medical Republic, AFMW President, Associate Professor Magdalena Simonis provides comment on the  TGA’s decision to down-schedule the OCP and permit pharmacist issuance. 

Key Points

The World Health Organisation recommends LARCs as first-line contraception for young women as they are safe, effective and reversible. There are now multiple studies which agree that longer acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are likely to reduce the rates of unwanted pregnancy, and may offer a more suitable contraceptive option for younger women. Only around 11% of Australian women use LARCs, which is a lower rate than many OECD nations.

Pharmacists have no capacity to advise patients on LARCs, prescribe them or administer them. It is through GPs that women and can obtain this information and have then make the arrangements to have them inserted. LARCs are the gold standard in contraception now, and permitting pharmacists prescribe low-dose contraceptives means that with every prescription this important conversation with our patients about contraceptive options, is being missed. GPs also use these types of consults to suggest urine screening tests for chlamydia and prompt conversations about pelvic pain, menstrual disorders and irregular bleeding.

We now have the first ever national guidelines on endometriosis and we know that up to 15% of women may be experiencing symptoms but are not detected until at least 8 years have elapsed, so seeing the GP for their contraception needs, provides the opportunity to have this important conversation with young women. The changes to OCP prescribing means preventative activities GPs engage in, will be missed.


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