Poland: Government moves fast to reinstate OTC emergency contraception

January 2024. On January 15th Poland’s Prime Minister announced that the government would propose an amendment to the law restricting access to the emergency contraception pills (ECPs), in order to make them available without a prescription. According to Reuters, by January 24th legislation had already been drafted. 

To date, and unlike the majority of European Union (EU) countries, in Poland all types of ECPs (LNG and UPA) are available only by prescription, and doctors are not allowed to prescribe ECPs to women under 18 years of age without parental consent. In 2015, UPA ECPs became available OTC to women 15 and older, following European Medicines Agency’s recommendation to remove the prescription requirement, which automatically applied to all EU countries. However, in July 2017 Poland introduced new regulations, reinstating mandatory prescription for UPA ECPs.

When this draft law is approved by the Parliament and ECPs become OTC again in Poland, Hungary will be the only remaining EU country where ECPs are still prescription medicines. Making EC pills available without a prescription, is a self-care intervention recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).    

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