Online contraceptive pill service launched
Monday 23 June 2008
Women will be able to get the Pill online without having to visit their doctor under a new service being launched today.
The medical website DrThom is offering three months' supply for £29.99.
The service will initially be offered to women already on the Pill but will soon be expanded to those who have never taken it before.
A spokesman for the firm said patients will have to fill in a health questionnaire and can be asked follow-up questions by a doctor from the website.
But doctors will have to rely on patients accurately reflecting their medical history and telling the truth about other factors, including their age.
The questionnaire includes asking the woman about prior use of the Pill, any side-effects, pregnancy, family history of cancer and blood pressure, weight and height.
Patients wishing to get repeat prescriptions and those who have never taken the Pill before will have to provide specific details of their blood pressure reading.
A spokesman for the service said doctors will rely upon what the patient is telling them about their health, the same as with a face-to-face consultation.
But he said DrThom was unable to "verify anything independently" although it had decided to prescribe to women aged 18 and over.
"A woman has to say how old she is and as part of the registration and will have to supply their date of birth," he said. "But there's nothing to stop somebody who's, say, 17 lying about their age."
The IT system would pick up anybody registering as being under 18 and flag that up to staff, he said.
The credit or debit card also has to be in the patient's name.
"There's nothing to stop a patient lying when they use the service," the spokesman said, but said they were only doing a disservice to their own health by lying.
Women taking the most commonly prescribed combined Pill, containing oestrogens and progestogens, have a small risk of blood clots (also called thromboembolism).
Smoking increases the risk of blood clots as does smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and a family history of clots.
Dr Thomas Van Every, DrThom's medical director, said: "The aim of our new contraceptive service is to make it easier and more convenient for women throughout the UK to get access to the Pill.
"Our specialist service is ideal for a woman living a long way from her GP or a woman who is too busy because of work or childcare to take the time to visit her GP.
"We see the DrThom service as part of an ongoing trend - a trend consistent with UK Government policy - to help women access contraceptive services as close to their home as possible."
A spokeswoman for the British Bankers' Association said some banks offered debit cards to 14-year-olds. The average age to get a card was around 16, she said.
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