Scottish pharmacies can now give women three months’ supply of ‘mini-pill’

Scheme marks first time women in Scotland can get birth control without seeing their GP

Kate Ng
Wednesday 17 November 2021 12:04 GMT
(Getty Images)

Women in Scotland will now be able to get a three-month supply of a contraceptive pill without going to their GP.

The Scottish government announced on Wednesday that, following a successful trial in the Lothian and Tayside areas, women can get the progesterone-only pill (also known as the mini-pill) from community pharmacies.

Ministers hope the scheme will bridge the gap between emergency contraception and long-term contraception.

Women are also being advised to contact their GP or local sexual health services to discuss their family planning needs.

It comes after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) reclassified two types of progesterone-only pills earlier this year, after a safety review by the Commission on Human Medicines and a public consultation.

The regulator announced in July that women would be able to buy the pills in pharmacies after a consultation with a pharmacist.

Boots and Superdrug pharmacies were the first to start offering the birth control in-store. Meanwhile, some NHS community pharmacies in England started piloting a scheme to help women access ongoing management of oral contraception in September.

Maree Todd, Scotland’s women’s health minister, said: “The introduction of this service will increase the choice for women in the ways in which they can access contraception.”

She added: “I would also like to give recognition to pharmacists and pharmacy teams across Scotland who continue to play a fundamental role in helping patients and the wider NHS team by ensuring people get the right care in the right place despite the additional pressures they face.

“Further enhancing the service the community pharmacy network offer through bridging contraception demonstrates its valuable role in our communities and in helping to address inequalities in health that women are facing.”

Deputy chief medical officer, Professor Nicola Steedman, added: “Until now, pharmacies could only supply emergency contraception and then needed to direct women to their GP practice for longer term contraception options.

“Providing a temporary supply of the progestogen-only pill within pharmacies will give women more choice over their reproductive health therefore reducing the risk of unplanned pregnancy.”

She stressed: “This is not intended to replace existing services providing contraception, but to widen access and bridge the gap between emergency contraception and longer term contraception choices for women.

“Patients will be advised by pharmacy teams to speak to their GP or local sexual and reproductive health service for ongoing contraception after receiving this temporary supply.”

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