Proposals to sell morning-after pill without prescription are
dangerous and ill-advised - 2 May 2003
Proposals to make the abortifacient morning-after pill available for sale over the
pharmacy counter, without prescription, are dangerous and ill-advised, spokesperson for
the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph, said today.
The National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee will next month consider a proposal to
allow purchase of the morning-after pill Postinor-2 without a prescription.
"Drug company Schering launched Postinor-2 last year with assurances that it had no
intention to apply to sell the drug without a prescription. In a statement the company
said 'it is only to be used as an emergency contraceptive and one of the reasons it is
available on prescription only is so that doctors can regulate how patients use it' (The
Australian, 1 July 2002). Where's their concern for patients now?", said Ms Joseph.
"It would be dangerous to allow women to take Postinor-2 without medical advice. When
prescribing Postinor-2 doctors need to have an understanding of the patient's medical
history and undertake a medical examination to identify any possible complications in
using the drug.
"Complications might include the possibility of the woman already being pregnant from
earlier sexual activity, the drug's interaction with other medication the patient is
taking or hypersensitivity to ingredients in the
"A pharmacist would not be able to take a full medical history in privacy in a busy
pharmacy and would not be qualified to undertake a medical examination.
"Postinor-2 can cause an early abortion by preventing an embryo from implanting in
the womb. The drug is often described as a contraceptive. But preventing the implantation
of an embryo happens after conception.
"Unless women have access to a doctor before a prescription for Postinor-2 is issued,
they will not be likely to have the opportunity to ask questions and find out about the
abortion-inducing nature of the drug and its potential ramifications for their health. So
much for informed consent."
Issued: 2 May 2003
Contact: Mary Joseph,
spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02