Belgium and Germany:  Assessing EC dispensing practices in community pharmacies

May 2024. Two recent studies looked into EC dispensing practices in community pharmacies in Europe.

  • A study in Berlin looked into EC availability, pricing and counseling in community pharmacies. In covert mystery calls to 257 community pharmacies UPA EC pills were immediately available in 98.4% of the pharmacies, and LNG in 86.8%. Prices for UPA EC pills varied from €15.95 to €42.95 (median of €35); LNG EC pills ranged from €10.60 to €32.49 (median of €22.00). Correct information about the window of effectiveness of UPA and LNG EC pills was provided in 69.8% of the pharmacies. UPA EC pills were recommended in 63.1% and LNG EC pills in 17.2% of pharmacies. Taking the EC pill as soon as possible was recommended in 30.8% of the pharmacies, and how to proceed in case of vomiting in 46.0%. Read the full article here:  Lungfiel, G., Mandlmeier, F., Kunow, C., & Langer, B. (2023). Oral emergency contraception practices of community pharmacies: a mystery caller study in the capital of Germany, Berlin. Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, 16(1).

  • Another study in Belgium assessed pharmacists’ EC dispensing practices in two regions of the country. The simulated patient study, using a predefined scenario, evaluated a request for emergency contraception involving a 25-year-old woman not using contraception, who had unprotected sexual intercourse 84 hours (3.5 days) ago and had her last period 10 days ago. 260 pharmacies were randomly selected, and the proportion of pharmacists who delivered the adequate EC pill was measured. Prescribing UPA EC pills, redirecting to another pharmacy in case of unavailability, or referring for a copper IUD, were considered adequate responses. Data was obtained from 216 pharmacies. In 64% of cases, EC pills dispensing was considered adequate. Correct dispensing was related to asking appropriate questions, such as the date of the last menstrual period and the date of the risky sexual intercourse. Read the full article here: Vander Steen, G., Ropers, J., Rousseau, C., Joris, A., Gilles, C., Rozenberg, S., & Manigart, Y. (2024). Pharmacist recommendations for emergency contraception in Belgium: a simulated user study. The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, 1–5.

  • Studies by Culleman M et al in 2022 also looked at EC knowledge and counseling preferences of the public and pharmacy staff. See Ceulemans, M.; Willekens, J; Cavens, L; DeWulf, Isabelle;  Peeters, L.; Roose, N.; Foulon, V. Knowledge and counseling preferences of the public and pharmacy staff on emergency contraception: Results of a cross-sectional study in Belgium. Contraception 115 (2022) 27–30.

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