Andorra: EC pills to be sold without prescription 

June 6, 2018. The Ministry of Health of Andorra announced today that, upon review of the current provision policies for emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs), pharmacists have been informed that prescription requirements have been lifted. Andorra currently has both LNG and UPA ECP products in the market. The safety profile of ECPs, the critical importance of facilitating timely access to the method in order to ensure efficacy, and the provision policies in place in other countries, are some of the reasons supporting this political decision.

The cost of ECPs will be covered by the Social Security System when procured with a prescription. Those under 16 will require a prescription, or parental consent.

Andorra, a landlocked microstate in the Pyrenees, with a population of about 77.000 people, is still one of the few European countries where abortion is not allowed under any circumstance. For further details, see the official communication by the Ministry of Health.

Bosnia i Herzegovina: new EC counselling tool

June 1, 2018. Partnership for Public Health translates into local language in Bosnia i Herzegovina and pre-tests the EC wheel.

This work was conducted in collaboration with the Family Physician Association of the Federation of Bosnia i Herzegovina, and the Family Physician Association of Republika Srpska, and with support from UNFPA.The local version of the wheel was produced in June 2018, and it will be used in trainings of health care providers.

Partnership for Public Health is an non-governmental organisation aimed at strengthening the role of civil society in the field of public health. Get in touch with us if you are interested in this tool or in adapting it in your country.

 

Contraception Atlas 2018

April 11, 2018. The European Parliamentary Forum on Population & Development (EPF) launches the Contraception Atlas 2018. In this second edition, the Atlas tracks government policies on a) access to contraceptive methods, b) family planning counselling and c) provision of online information on contraception, in 46 European states.

Belgium, France and the United Kingdom rank best of the 46 countries surveyed, mainly due to their general reimbursement schemes which cover a range of contraceptive supplies; their policies to improve access to contraception for young people and vulnerable groups, such as low-income women; and their excellent government supported websites on reproductive health and rights.

The Atlas is an excellent resource to put our respective countries achievements and shortfalls in context, and to build arguments and reasons to demand more and better reproductive health policies and programs. Visit https://www.contraceptioninfo.eu to learn more.

Information is power. ECEC thanks EPF for this critical work.

New IPPF Statement on EC

March 20th, 2018. The International Medical Advisory Panel (IMAP) of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), just published its new Statement on emergency contraception (EC). This document offers guidance for health care providers to strengthen the provision of EC services according to the latest research, experiences and international recommendations. While the Statement is primarily intended to inform IPPF Member Associations, it also provides clarity on IPPF’s position with regard to EC, and can be a useful tool for other organizations, activists, researchers, and policy and decision makers working on EC.

IPPF is a global sexual and reproductive health services provider and a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Statement can be found here.

In Italy, gynaecologist requests affordable and more accessible EC pills

The Italian Medical Contraception Society (SMIC)  is requesting to the Ministry of Health and the national Medicines Agency that  EC pills are mandatorily stocked in all pharmacies, in order to make them more accessible and reduce time to start of treatment; and that EC is covered by the national health system, and thus provided free of charged in, at least, public and publicly contracted health facilities.

You can express your support to this petition here:  http://chn.ge/2GS7M9V

To ECEC’s knowledge, in Italy and another 15 European Union counties, the full cost of EC is covered directly by the user (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Only 7 countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom) have partial or full reimbursement or subsidy mechanisms to make EC pills available at a lower cost or  free of charge.  You can read more here.

New Council of Europe recommendations to improve women’s SRHR in Europe

December 5, 2017.  The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, issued a set of recommendations addressed to States on how to better ensure women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in Europe. Read the full report here.

The recommendations underscore that women’s sexual & reproductive rights are human rights, and that States have the duty to respect, protect and fulfil them. The recommendations to States include:

  • guaranteeing the affordability, availability and accessibility of modern contraception, including the removal of barriers that obstruct timely access to emergency contraception; and
  • ensuring that all survivors of sexual violence, including women in conflict zones or detention centres, victims of trafficking, asylum seekers and refugees, can access comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception.

The report provides an overview of State’s human rights obligations in this field and examples of shortcomings that European states must address in particular as regards women’s rights to life, health, privacy, equality, non-discrimination, as well as their right to be free from torture and ill-treatment.

Switzerland: when and how to refer an EC request?

September 2017.  The delivery of EC by pharmacists is an important contribution to the promotion of sexual health and allows easier access to the method. When pharmacists have the necessary knowledge, the majority of emergency contraception issues can be resolved in the pharmacy, enabling the woman to take the most suitable EC method immediately on site. In some situations, however,  referral to a specialised center or provider is needed.

In July  2017 SANTÉ SEXUELLE Suisse, pharmaSuisse and the groupe interdisciplinaire d’expert·e·s en contraception d’urgence (IENK) published  the chart “Contraception d’urgence en officine: conditions pour un transfert vers un centre spécialisé” which proivdes guidance on when and how to refer a women requesting EC. This guidances is also available in German.

 

 

 

 

UK: LNG EC pills more affordable in some pharmacies

July 2017. The British health retailer Superdrug (the second largest chain in the United Kingdom) announced on June 27th the sell of a generic levonorgestrel (LNG) emergency contraceptive pill, at less than half the price of the currently branded EC pills. Ezinelle will be sold at around 15,30 €, while currently the rest of LNG brands cost around 42 €.

In 2016, ECEC analysed the differences in the price being paid for EC pills when procured directly from pharmacies, across European Union countries. The highest prices were found in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where women pay over 40 € for levonorgestrel EC pills, and the lowest in France, at 7 € for the exact same product. Based on this data, the NGO British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas), launched the Just Say Non campaign, to demand more affordable prices.

Congratulations to Bpas for the smart and fruitful campaign and for making EC more accessible to all women in the United Kingdom. More news from British media outlets here, here and here.

EC pills back to prescription in Poland

June 2017.  On June 23rd President Andrzej Duda finally signed the bill proposed by the ruling party Law and Justice (PiS), which will change the status of the only EC pill currently available without prescription in Poland  (EC with ulipristal acetate, sold under the brand name ellaOne).

The so called “Act of 25th May 2017 on the change in the Act on medical services financed from a state budget and some other acts” will enter into effect 30 days after signature (end of July). You can read more about the process in ASTRA’s website.

 

Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, had warned of the catastrophic impact that such a restriction could have, and the Europe branch of the International Planned Parenthood Federation has strongly condemned the measure.

The Polish government has made an important legislative effort, investing a lot of time and public resources, to restrict access to a safe and effective contraceptive; to a drug that allows women and couples to have more control over their bodies and lives; to a drug that helps women realize their rights to health and life. We need to continue educating about emergency contraception, dispelling myths and misconceptions, and strive to ensure sure that EC programs and policies are based on evidence. We have a lot of work to do.