Volume 94, Issue 42

Tuesday, November 14, 2000


NEWS

DeCicco wins

Operation Massive a failure

London bids Mayor Haskett farewell

Traffic and stolen laptops plague campus

Morning after pill sees critics in B.C.

Western places fifth again

Corroded Disorder

Morning after pill sees critics in B.C.

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff



After an announcement late last month by British Columbia's premier that will make the 'morning after pill' more accessible in that province, critics have raised their voices against the decision.

B.C. Premier, Ujjal Dsanjh, announced pharmacists – not just doctors – will have the power to prescribe the emergency contraception pill beginning Dec. 1, said Nadine Criddle, a B.C. Ministry of Health spokesperson.

The decision to amend B.C. law followed a long period of discussion between the government and the province's pharmacies, she added.

"The ECP wasn't something that came about suddenly," she said, of the twoyear process involved in changing the law.

Criddle said the Ministry believes in giving women access to contraceptive choices and the amendment will provide them with another option.

However, John Hof, president of the B.C. chapter of the Campaign Life Coalition, said he has numerous concerns about the ECP.

"I think it's horrendous – 14-year-old girls without parental consent can just walk in and purchase these pills. The premier is making this pill [more available], knowing its links to breast cancer," he said, adding he thinks the premier is using ECP as a political tool to increase his support in the polls for an upcoming election.

But Criddle said the Ministry was not aware of any possible health risks. "We have done our own analysis to evaluate the drug and it has been approved," she said.

Judith Chrystal, director of communications at the B.C. Pharmacy Association, said the drug has been available for 30 years through doctors' prescriptions.

"The ECP needs to be taken as quickly as possible, within a 72-hour time period and sometimes it's hard to get into your family doctor or clinic to get a prescription," she said. "It's just easier to get the ECP. We're just adding choice."

Chrystal added getting the pill would not be as simple as buying over-the-counter cold medication since pharmacists must first approve after having asked sveral screening questions.

She added the association has not received any letters or calls objecting to the pill.

Christina Alarcon, a pharmacist and representative of the B.C. Pharmacists for Life group, said the pharmaceutical associations and the province have been misinformed about the ECP.

"The pills contain a high dose of estrogen, which has been known to cause stroke and increase the chances of breast cancer," she said. "This is a ridiculous move. [The province] does not have adequate medical data or controlled clinical trials."

She said it does not prevent pregnancy in all cases and added the ECP is being presented in the news as a form of contraception when she feels it is in actuality a form of abortion.

Hof said he thinks it is a travesty the prescription will soon be written by pharmacists. "It's now going to be available to every Tom, Dick and Harry," he said, adding the long term effects will be felt in the courts for years to come.


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