Volume 93, Issue 92

Thursday, March 23, 2000


Haskett says sorry

Pill accessibility increases

Eye disease put in focus

Study links number of car passengers to teenage accidents

Gas study criticized for being a smoke-screen

Head hunter talks about importance of high-tech skills


Caught on campus

Pill accessibility increases

By Marcy Cabral
Gazette Staff

Pharmacists in British Columbia are taking steps to make the morning after pill more accessible to patients in the western province.

Christane Menard, director of communications for the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, said B.C. pharmacists were thinking about shifting the responsibility of counselling and assessing need for the emergency contraceptive from physicians to pharmacists.

"It's a public health issue because the rate of abortions has been growing in the ages of 20-35," Menard said, adding in order for this method of contraceptive to be effective, it must be taken within 72 hours of intercourse. She said the long process of getting a doctor's prescription was ineffecient and caused needless delays.

However, before making the change from requiring a doctor's note to an appointment with the pharmacist, the proposal would have to be inspected by B.C.'s Ministry of Health, said Michelle Stewart, spokesperson for the Ministry.

Stewart explained the shift in responsibility might require legislation or a statutory change by the Ministry. She added changing the rules would require time. "We'll have to determine a lot of regulations," she said. "It's not going to happen overnight."

She added the emergency contraceptive was classed as a sex hormone and recognized by Canada's federal drug policy.

Judy Schlacter, director of communications for the B.C. Pharmacists Association, said the nearby state of Washington in the United Sates had a similar program which worked successfully.

She added public health nurses in the province could currently issue prescriptions for the drug under delegated authority, however, the change was needed to make prospective patients feel better about obtaining the pill.

Bonnie Johnson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of Canada, said the initiative was also looking to other provinces to change their legislation, in order to allow the contraceptive pill to be sold behind the counter. "It is an option to protect women more adequately from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies," she said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000