Contraceptive pill will soon be available over counter without prescription

Kiwi women will soon be able to buy the contraceptive pill over the counter at pharmacies without a doctor's prescription. 

The contraceptive pill Source: 1 NEWS

It follows a three-year submission process to reclassify selected oral contraceptives as restricted medication rather than prescription medication.

Medsafe today accepted a recommendation by the Medicine Classifications Committee (MCC) to make this change.

It means trained pharmacists will soon be able to dispense the pill to women who've had it prescribed in the past three years.

Those with risk factors, under 16 or taking the pill for the first time will be ineligible. 

Women will also be encouraged to allow the pharmacist to notify their doctor that they are getting the oral contraceptive.

The organisation behind Life and Unichem Pharmacies, Green Cross Health, spearheaded the action.

"This is a ground-breaking decision by the Ministry of Health," the company's Alison Van Wyk said. 

"Pharmacists are key providers of primary care in their communities and are well-equipped to consult with women about their contraception needs, having already done so for some time with the provision of the emergency contraceptive pill," she said. 

The changes follow international growth in access to oral contraceptives through pharmacists.

Dr Natalie Gauld, medicines reclassification specialist said: "Women in the Netherlands and some US states are already enjoying the benefits that come with it and we applaud the Ministry of Health for now making this possible within New Zealand."

The reclassification will come into effect by the end of the month.

Medsafe says pharmacies won't sell the oral contraceptives until pharmacists have been deemed appropriately trained.

Around 200,000 women in New Zealand currently take the pill.