FSRH, RCOG and RPS support provision of the progestogen-only contraceptive pill in pharmacies

Posted 24 February 2021

Date: 24 Feb 2021

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) fully support proposals to make it easier for women to obtain the progestogen-only contraceptive pill in pharmacies without the need for a prescription.

We welcome the consultation, by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), on licensing of two brands of the progestogen-only pill (POP) as Pharmacy Medicines (P) to be provided in pharmacies.

We also support proposals to enhance the provision of evidence-based advice and support for women to make choices that suit their reproductive health needs.

Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

“The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare fully supports provision of progestogen-only pills in pharmacies, something we have recommended for many years. We have been working with partners to encourage the reclassification of progestogen-only pills for many years.

“Progestogen-only contraceptive pills are safe, reliable, easy to use and are an incredibly popular contraceptive method. Availability over the counter in pharmacies will make it easier for women to access essential contraception to avoid unplanned pregnancies during and beyond Covid-19.

"The fragmented Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare system is notoriously difficult for women to navigate, and successive cuts to Public Health budgets have made it even harder for women to access the contraception they need. Reclassification could relieve unnecessary pressures on GPs, who will not need to see patients for repeat prescriptions.

“However, reclassification of two brands is only the first step, and buying contraception should not be the default solution. We are calling for progestogen-only pills to be available to everyone for free in community pharmacies, as well as the reclassification of other oral contraceptives moving forward.”

Dr Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)

“The RCOG has long called for easier access to a wide range of contraception for girls and women, and included a recommendation in our Better for women report 2020 for the progestogen-only oral contraceptive pill (POP) to be reclassified from ‘prescription-only’ to ‘pharmacy product’. Given the long safety track-record of the progestogen-only oral contraceptive pill, we are delighted that our call has started to become a reality.

“We know too many girls and women were struggling to access basic women’s health services, including contraception, even before the pandemic. The past year has added further barriers to women and girls getting the support they need. The consequences of this includes an increase in the number of unplanned pregnancies which can result in poorer outcomes for women and their babies and a rise in requests for abortion.

“A move like this would give women and girls more control over their reproductive health – which can only be a good thing.”

Sandra Gidley, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said:

“Pharmacies already play an important role in the provision of contraception and are a convenient, expert source of help and advice.

“This move will increase access to an effective method of contraception and enable women to make an informed choice about their needs after discussion with a pharmacist.

“Whilst this classification is a positive move, ultimately we’d like to see contraceptive services commissioned by the NHS through pharmacies so many more people can benefit from another point of access to contraception and advice.”


For further information, please contact: Camila Azevedo, FSRH External Affairs Manager
cazevedo@fsrh.org / 07379408587

Notes to editors

  • Progestogen-only contraceptive are classified as Prescription-Only Medicines (POM). MHRA is currently consulting regarding licensing of two brands of desogestrel 75mcg POP as Pharmacy Medicines (P). The products are Hana® (Laboratoire HRA Pharma) and Lovima® (Maxwellia Ltd).
  • P medicines can be bought at a pharmacy under the supervision of a pharmacist, without a prescription. Up to 3 months’ supply of Hana or Lovima could be sold to new users (up to 12 months for current or recent users aged 18 and over). These products would not be on the General Sales List and, therefore, would not be available off the shelf in pharmacies or other retail outlets.
  • The MHRA consultations can be found here
  • FSRH's clinical statement on MHRA's consultation can be read here

About FSRH
The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ.

About the RCOG
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is a medical charity that champions the provision of high quality women’s healthcare in the UK and beyond. It is dedicated to encouraging the study and advancing the science and practice of obstetrics and gynaecology. It does this through postgraduate medical education and training and the publication of clinical guidelines and reports on aspects of the specialty and service provision. 

About the RPS
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is the professional membership body for pharmacists and pharmacy. Our mission is to put pharmacy at the forefront of healthcare and our vision is to become the world leader in the safe and effective use of medicines.  Since RPS was founded in 1841 we have championed the profession and are internationally renowned as publishers of medicines information. We support pharmacists in their education and development and advocate for pharmacy with governments and in the media.