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GPs go forth

Pill over counter plan worries RCGP

The RCGP has reacted with concern to the news the UK drug regulator is considering making the contraceptive pill available over the counter – without a doctor's prescription or access to patient notes.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency discussed the move at a meeting on women's health in London this week.

The college warned any change would need to be considered 'very carefully'.

It urged particular caution in patients with high blood pressure, thrombolysis and epilepsy, for whom there are particular safety issues.

An MHRA spokesperson described the meeting as 'a good way of gauging opinions with our stakeholders and interested parties', and stressed any move was still in 'very initial discussions'.

But RCGP vice chair Professor Nigel Sparrow said: 'We need to consider this very carefully. Patient safety is of paramount importance. Perhaps this is a little early.'

Professor Sparrow, a GP in Nottingham, also told Pulse pharmacists would need to be adequately trained to offer the pill safely and avoid the 'fragmentation' of patient records – as pharmacists offering the pill OTC would not have access to a patient's notes.

The MHRA is also to consider making medicines for controlling heavy menstrual bleeding available over the counter, and distributing sexual health tests, which are free on the NHS.

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