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Move to make oral contraceptive pill available from pharmacists applauded

Advancing consumer health through responsible self-care


NZSMI applauds move to make oral contraceptive pill available from pharmacists without prescription

February 14, 2017 – Consumer healthcare products industry body, the New Zealand Self-Medication Industry (SMI), applauds a breakthrough recommendation by Medsafe’s Medicine Classifications Committee (MCC) to change the classification of certain oral contraceptives from ‘prescription’ to ‘restricted’ medicines, allowing them to be sold over the counter (OTC) to women who meet certain criteria.

“This is a great step forward in improving access to safe and effective medicines, especially for New Zealand women. Pharmacists have already proven they can be responsible and careful when dispensing pharmaceuticals without prescription,” comments SMI executive director Scott Milne.

Trained and accredited pharmacists already dispense Tamiflu antiviral treatment for influenza, trimethoprim for urinary infections, the “morning-after pill” without prescription to patients and a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Audits by Medsafe, have shown this practice is both safe and effective.

“Patients benefit from easier access and less cost. Pharmacists have also shown they advise patients of possible side effects and refer patients appropriately to their GP or nurse if they have issues that need to be addressed.

“There are many medicines which, under certain circumstances, could be provided to patients without the need for GP visits and prescriptions. Like many previous situations where prescription medicines have been reclassified pharmacists will have to undergo specific, audited education programmes before being authorized to supply these products.

“This is a great win for commonsense. We have an excellent General Practitioner service in this country but it is over-burdened. Moves like this reduce doctor waiting lists and allow better use of skilled practitioners’ diagnostic resources. We are not saying that people shouldn’t go to their GP if they believe they are seriously ill but there are many common health needs which normally clear up by themselves in time or with a little help from an OTC remedy from a pharmacy or supermarket.”

Mr Milne says Mrs Alison van Wyk of Green Cross Health and medicines reclassification expert, Dr Natalie Gauld, are to be congratulated for their initiative and perseverance over three years to bring this option to the NZ market in line with a number of overseas markets.

The reclassification is expected to come into effect by the end of February.



About SMI: The New Zealand Self-Medication Industry Association Inc (SMI) is the national trade association representing manufacturers, marketers and distributors of a wide range of products, generally available "over-the-counter" (OTC) and mainly for use in self-medication by New Zealand consumers. SMI’s mission is to promote better health through responsible self-care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self-care products are readily available to all New Zealanders at a reasonable cost. SMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

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