Access to emergency contraception through community pharmacies in Europe: Findings from a participatory survey

January 2021. The European Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ECEC) and the European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YouAct), launched in 2019 a participatory survey in order to better understand how access to and availability of emergency contraception (EC) pills is through community pharmacies in our region.

We are pleased to introduce the survey report, which focuses on five countries: Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malta, Spain and Sweden. You can download the report here.

Our findings suggest that community pharmacies play a very important role in ensuring access to EC pills, with the big majority of pharmacies carrying them (even in countries where they are entitled not to). However, our findings also point at individuals not being systematically offered a choice of postcoital contraception methods in every pharmacy of our sample.

We conclude that access to the highest standard of care in post-coital contraception remains uneven within and among countries in Europe: individuals are likely to have different experiences and outcomes when procuring EC, depending on what European country she/he is in, and also on what pharmacy she/he walks in.

ECEC and YouAct recommend some measures to reduce inequities in access to the highest standard of post-coital contraception care. These include:

  • Reclassifying ECPs so they can be sold in pharmacies and other outlets, without the supervision of a pharmacist.
  • Developing minimum regional and national standards for EC dispensing.
  • Disseminating these standards and making them publicly available, so individuals know what to expect when procuring EC.
  • Conducting non-commercial information campaigns to ensure the ability of all people to access accurate information about all post-coital contraception choices available to them.

Different responsibilities fall on different players. We look forward to starting a conversation to move forward toward a stronger rights-based approach to EC dispensing.

We thank all the organizations, individuals and pharmacy staff that participated in this effort.

Contact us at ecec[at]eeirh[dot]org and join our e-mail list.