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Since July 2021, progestogen-only contraceptive pills are now available for the first time from pharmacies without prescription, increasing choice for women in the ways in which they can access contraception.

Progestogen-only contraceptive pills containing desogestrel will soon be available to buy in pharmacies after a consultation with a pharmacist> Desogestrel is safe for most women to take and will still be available free of charge from a doctor, from commissioned services and sexual health clinics.

Dr June Raine CBE, Chief Executive, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, said:

This is good news for women and families. Pharmacists have the expertise to advise women on whether desogestrel is an appropriate and safe oral contraceptive pill for them to use and to give women the information they need, to make informed choices.

We have consulted a wide range of people to enable us to reach the decision to make this contraceptive available for the first time in the UK without prescription. We received many responses to our consultation, the majority of which supported this approach .

We will continue to listen to and engage with patients to improve access to a wide range of medicinal products when it is safe to do so.

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said:

We are delighted that all those who need the progestogen-only oral contraceptive pill (POP) can now go into their local pharmacy and access it without needing a prescription. The RCOG has called for this for some time and it was a key recommendation of the College’s Better for Women report. This announcement is a huge win for women and girls who will no longer face unnecessary barriers when accessing this type of contraception.

Even before the pandemic, too many women and girls were struggling to access basic women’s health services. The consequences of this include an increase in the number of unplanned pregnancies, which can result in poorer outcomes for women and their babies. Enabling women and girls to access POP more easily and conveniently will give them more control over their reproductive health, which can only be a good thing.

The products reclassified, Lovima 75 microgram film-coated tablets and Hana 75 microgram film-coated tablets, are both oral contraceptives for continuous use to prevent pregnancy in those of childbearing age.

The MHRA’s decision to reclassify these desogestrel products follows a safety review by the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) and a public consultation.

As part of the decision-making process, we sought views from patients, pharmacists, prescribers and a wide range of stakeholders including the Royal College of Gynaecologists, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, and British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

Robbie Turner, Royal Pharmaceutical Society Director of Pharmacy said:

This is a positive step for women which will increase access to the progestogen-only pill. Community pharmacies are conveniently located and pharmacists can provide expert, confidential advice on all aspects of contraception, helping women to make an informed choice about their needs.

Lovima 75 microgram film-coated tablets (Desogestrel)

Hana 75 microgram film-coated tablets (Desogestrel)