Morning-after pill to be sold over-the-counter

The Medicines Authority confirms that the morning-after pill will be sold over-the-counter, despite a parliamentary committee recommending a doctor’s prescription

The morning-after pill will be made available over-the-counter, but there is no word as to when
The morning-after pill will be made available over-the-counter, but there is no word as to when

The morning-after pill will be made available over-the-counter and will not require a doctor's prescription, Malta Medicines Authority chief Anthony Serracino Inglott has said.

“We had asked that EllaOne not be imported until a discussion on the topic had taken place in order to be prudent. Now we believe that the discussion is over,” Serracino Inglott told MaltaToday.

"Levonorgestrel will fall under article 126(a) which states that in the absence of a marketing authorisation for a medicinal product, the licensing authority may authorise the product in Malta, provided that it is authorised in another EU/EEA member state," he added.

Seraccino Inglott could not commit, however, to a time-frame when emergency contraception will be available in pharmacies, putting it down to marketing authorisation holders.

In comments to the media, Serranicino Inglott explained that the Medicines Authority looked at all the recommendations made by the parliamentary committee but decided that to ensure that there is efficacy, the contraceptive will be made available over-the-counter.

“The authority has always based its decisions on three things; quality, safety of patients and efficacy. By asking patients to go to doctors to get their hands on the contraceptive, you are compromising efficacy,” he said.

Members of parliament sitting on the social affairs, health and family committees recommended to the House of Representatives that the emergency contraceptive pill could only be dispensed against a doctor’s prescription, as was recommended also by the Medical Council of Malta.

The Medical Association of Malta came forward on Friday in support of this On Sunday, 300 protestors took to the streets in Valletta over the issue. In comments to MaltaToday Mel McElhatton, President of Gender Equality Malta, the NGO which organised the protest, argued that requiring a prescription would defeat the purpose of an emergency contraception, adding that in such a situation, a woman would have to take leave from a work to get a prescription from work.

McElhatton insisted that it is imperative that the morning after pill be made available over-the-counter without fear or prejudice.

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil issued a statement welcoming the conclusion reached by the Medicines Authority and praised the NGOs that worked to make it possible. 

Last Thursday, Busuttil supported the parliamentary committee’s recommendation that the morning-after pill should only be available by prescription. Today, Busuttil noted that the decision belongs to the Medicines Authority.

“I have already noted that after the parliamentary committee achieved consensus on the fact that the MAP should be available, the decision on whether its available over the counter lies with the Medicines Authority,” the statement said.

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