ECEC has recently become aware of two great videos that detail EC’s mode of action. The first one, released by HRA Pharma this year, can be found here. The second one, which was released by the Royal Women’s Hospital in Australia and is designed to reach adolescents and girls, can be found here. Both of these videos provide great information about EC in an easy-to-understand, relatable way.
The Italian edition of Emergency Contraception: A guideline for service provision in Europe is already available. See Contraccezione di emergenza Una linea guida per la fornitura di servizi in Europa. This edition has been published in March 2015 with the endorsement of the Societa’ Italiana di Ginecologia e Ostetricia, Associazione Ostetrici Ginecologi Ospedalieri Italiani, Societa’ Medica Italiana per la Contraccezione, Societa’ Italiana della Contraccezione, and Associazione Ginecologi Territoriali.
The Ministry of Health in Luxembourg announced on March 17 that UPA EC is available in pharmacies without a prescription since February 1, 2015. Click here to read Ministry statement. We have also been informed that UPA EC pills will be available for direct purchase in pharmacies in the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain in the coming weeks This is also likely to be the case in Germany, according to the news.
In Italy on March 10, the Consiglio Superiore di Sanità (CSS) recommended not to remove the prescription requirement for UPA EC. It is now up to the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) to issue a regulation after the CSS’s technical opinion. Click here for additional information. The Consiglio’s technical opinion also included the recommendation to request a pregnancy test only when a pregnancy is suspected. Until today, Italy has been the only country we know of where a pregnancy test is mandatory before prescribing UPA EC.
In February 2015, the Portuguese Society of Contraception launched a practical EC guide for pharmacists. After Portugal decided to follow the European Union Commission recommendation to make UPA EC accessible directly from pharmacies without prescription, UPA EC is expected to be available directly from pharmacists in the country in the next few months. The Portuguese Society of Contraception is working with pharmacists to ensure that they are well-equipped to help women choose the best EC method for them. You can download Contraceção de Emergência (CE) Guia prático, clicking here.
Despite the fact that the European Commission recently ruled that ulipristal acetate (UPA) EC pills could be accessible directly from pharmacies without the need for a prescription, the Hungarian State Secretariat for Health has indicated that all EC pills will remain prescription-only. The Secretariat claims to base this decision out of patient safety concerns, and because, in its opinion, in Hungary the safe use of this product can only be ensured through the combined presence of a pharmacist and medical care. This concern is not supported by current scientific research and evidence. Visit the The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) website, to follow advocacy efforts underway to revert this decision.
The Polish organization Federation for Women and Family Planning, which works for women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, has published a petition demanding that the Polish Ministry of Health implement the European Commission recommendations that emergency contraception be sold over the counter. To read and sign the petition, please click here (in Polish and English).
The petition implores “the Ministry of Health of Poland to immediately implement European Commission recommendations and make emergency contraception available over-the counter. Examples from Western Europe show that the accessibility of family planning combined with good education contribute to the reduction in unwanted pregnancies. Making EC available without prescription would also mean less corruption and black market sales.”
ECEC strongly supports this effort. Please click here to access the petition.
HRA Pharma announced that the European Commission, in a historic ruling, has authorized the emergency contraceptive ellaOne® to be accessible directly from pharmacies without the need for a prescription from a doctor. This is the first ever decision of its type regarding any oral contraceptive product applicable to all EU member states, according to national implementation procedures. This new ruling will empower over 120 million women across the entire EU to gain direct access to emergency contraception.
This legally-binding decision follows an earlier positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which concluded that ellaOne® works best if used during the first 24 hours and can be used safely without a medical prescription. Today’s decision is a further testament to the acceptance of the need for women to be offered improved access to superior emergency contraceptive options such as ellaOne®.
ellaOne® will first be available in pharmacies without a prescription in some European countries beginning next month (February 2015), with a full launch program taking place across the EU during the rest of the year.
To read the full press release from HRA Pharma, please click here.
December 17 marks the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and is observed annually by sex workers, their advocates, friends, families, and allies. The day calls attention to hate crimes committed against sex workers worldwide as well as the need to remove the social stigma and discrimination that have contributed to violence against sex workers and indifference from the communities they are a part of. Sex workers are disproportionately affected by all kinds of violence: research has shown that 73.5% of sex workers in Liverpool have experienced violence in the course of their work, with 48% of those having been raped at least once (Stoops & Campbell, 2008). Because of the especially high levels of sexual violence sex workers are at risk of, EC is a critical component of their health care and needs to be readily accessible and available to them. We need to make a concerted effort to ensure that services are “sex worker friendly” and open and welcoming to this community, as with all communities. There is a continued need to ensure that all women who need EC can access it in a timely fashion and free from judgment or condemnation. In light of this, let’s make December 17 the day we take action to improve services for sex workers.
According to the World Health Organization, 25% of women in the European region experience physical and/or sexual violence by intimate partners at some point of their life, and 5% experience sexual violence from people who are not their partners.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we want to remind our communities that emergency contraception is an important component of care for survivors of sexual violence, and that it must, therefore, be readily available in all facilities where emergency care is provided.
Read more about this in ICEC’s publication EC for rape survivors. A Human Rights and Public Health Imperative.
On November 21st 2014, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended that the EC pill containing ulipristal acetate, be made available without the need for a prescription in all European Union countries. EMA recommendation should be implemented in a few months, once it has been endorsed by the European Commission. For further information, please read EM’As press release here.