Mary Wooldridge MP

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Liberal Nationals promise over-counter pill

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Contraceptive pills are a safe and effective way of preventing pregnancy.

In an Australian first, a Liberal Nationals Government will increase access to the contraceptive pill by making it available over the counter from a pharmacist.

Joining a number of American states and over 100 countries around the world, including New Zealand, Victorian women will become the first in Australia to have access to the pill without the ongoing need for a prescription. 

Making the pill available in pharmacies, after consultation with a pharmacist, will make it easier for a woman to access ongoing supply, improving adherence and ultimately fewer unintended pregnancies. 

Women will be required to visit their GP in the first instance where a doctor will be able to conduct relevant health and family history checks to identify pre-existing risks. Following the initial prescription women will be able to access future courses of the pill from their local pharmacist, with appropriate consultation and screening.

The oral contraceptive pill will join the morning-after-pill and other commonly used medicines such as Ventolin which are provided without prescription with the supervision of a pharmacist.

An implementation committee comprising medical professionals, pharmacists and women’s health specialists will be established to advise on the rollout including scheduling, guidelines, pharmacist training and safeguards. 

It’s been estimated that approximately half of all Australian women have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. This can have a massive emotional and financial impact on women and why it’s important to ensure as many women as possible have access to the contraceptive of their choice. 

With a pharmacist-dispensed non-prescription model for the pill, Victorian women will have greater control and better access. 

As the cost of living increases, women will be able to access important contraceptives without the cost of visiting a GP every time. A GP visit costs on average $37.32 in Victoria. This is in addition to the cost of taking time off work and the cost of travelling to a local GP, which can be significant for rural or regional women. 

The most recent ABS survey of patient experiences in Australia showed that 5% of women delayed seeing a GP in the previous 12 months due to cost, and 20% of women waited longer than they believed was acceptable to see the GP. 

Women will be able to decide to visit a GP for a script for the Pill, which will attract a PBS subsidy, or attend their pharmacist for over the counter access to the pill. 

The Liberal Nationals will enable women to have more control over their contraception choices and ease the cost of living. 

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Mary Wooldridge:

“The contraceptive pill is safe and effective, and we will ensure that women who choose to use it, can do so as easily as possible. 

Women are completely capable of being in charge of their own contraception and this policy puts more control in their hands. 

The consequences of unintended pregnancy can be serious financially and emotionally – we need to make sure that as many women as possible have access to the contraception of their choice.”

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