AMA condemns proposal for over the counter contraception

21 Nov 2014

Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice, Dr Brian Morton, has strongly condemned a proposal put to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for several oral contraceptives to be rescheduled from Schedule 4 (Prescription Only) to Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicine). 

The unknown applicant has proposed a minor questionnaire by the pharmacist regarding family history of heart problems, hypertension and stroke, and an in-pharmacy blood pressure test (or results from a recent blood pressure test) be a potential condition for the provision of medication. The application will be considered at the March 2015 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling.

Dr Morton says such a move would definitely not be an appropriate expansion of pharmacists’ scope of practice. He said there are a range of serious concerns with such a proposal, highlighting that it would lead to fragmentation of care and a lack of continuity of care. He added that pharmacies are not the place for personal discussions with women about contraceptive choices nor were pharmacists qualified to provide holistic care or appropriately consider contraindications and risks. 

“I have a real concern that quality care would be sacrificed in the name of cost-saving. Such a move may see women not presenting for pap smears, and they would miss the opportunity to receive advice on matters such as sexually transmitted infections and breast self-examination,” Dr Morton said.