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Morning after pill over the counter

Published: 6:10PM Tuesday May 21, 2002

From Tuesday New Zealand women will be able to buy a pill to prevent pregnancy from some chemist shops.

Private consulting rooms are being set-up in chemists nationwide as pharmacists prepare to move into a role which until now has been the preserve of doctors - dispensing emergency contraception.

"It's fantastic that the pharmacy profession can now do something different in promoting their professional role," says Euan Galloway of the Pharmaceutical Society.

Women will be able to come to an accredited pharmacy, and for $28 receive a ten-minute consultation and the emergency contraceptive pills.

There is no age restriction, meaning girls under 16 can be given the pills freely, providing the pharmacist is happy they understand all the issues.

Pharmacists who wish to dispense are now being trained by the Family Planning Association, the first in Auckland on Monday night.

The association says its research shows the move is a positive one.

Helen Roberts of the FPA says women who were seeking abortions told the association they would have used the emergency contraceptive pill if it had been available in pharmacies.

But some doctors have concerns over the change.

John Adams of the NZ Medical Association says a pharmacy consultation might not address issues such as the woman's exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

"There are many questions that medical practitioners would be trained to ask about and investigate that would not be possible to look into in a pharmacy context," he says.

But those being trained dispute this.

Not all chemists in the country will volunteer to take on the new role, but most who do will be trained and hanging up their signs within the next few weeks.

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