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Emergency contraception from community pharmacies: looking back and looking forward
  1. Andrew Radley1,2,
  2. Claire Anderson3
  1. 1 Directorate of Public Health, NHS Tayside, Dundee, UK
  2. 2 School of Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK
  3. 3 Division of Pharmacy Practice & Policy, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Radley, Directorate of Public Health, NHS Tayside, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK; Andrew.radley{at}

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Sharon Cameron and our colleagues present a study investigating the provision of emergency contraception (EC) from pharmacies, using a mystery shopper methodology undertaken in Edinburgh, Dundee and London, UK.1 We report that most women were able to undertake their consultation in a private room and that half received advice about ongoing contraception. However, one in five women left the pharmacy without EC because of the unavailability of a pharmacist or lack of supplies of EC. This is unacceptable and the pharmacy profession, contractor bodies and commissioners have a role in raising the professional standards of all pharmacies to those of the best. Universal commissioning of free EC and ongoing contraception should be available through pharmacies regardless of a woman’s age.

The authors remark that although availability of EC from pharmacies improves access, women in the UK still require a consultation with a pharmacist and the privacy of a sensitive consultation for EC in the community pharmacy is not guaranteed. They conclude that opportunities to prevent unintended pregnancy are being missed and it is now time to make EC available as a general sales list medicine (GSL).1 We would highlight that access to EC from pharmacies brings with it a series of distinct advantages that may outweigh the potential advantages of deregulation. As a GSL medicine, EC would be able …

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  • Contributors Both authors contributed equally to the conception, design and drafting of this editorial.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests AR reports he has received research grants from Gilead, Bristol Myers Squibb, Abbvie and Roche and has received honoraria from Gilead and personal fees from Abbvie. AR is a coauthor of this paper and a member of the research team for the Bridge-It study (NCT03791086). CA was Chair of the Data Management Committee of the Bridge-It study (NCT03791086).

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.