Non-prescription dispensing of emergency oral contraceptives: Recommendations from the German Federal Chamber of Pharmacists [Bundesapothekerkammer]

Pharm Pract (Granada). 2016 Jul-Sep;14(3):828. doi: 10.18549/PharmPract.2016.03.828. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Background: Emergency hormonal contraceptives (EHC) are contraceptives used to prevent unintended pregnancy following unprotected sexual intercourse (USI) or contraceptive failure. The EHCs available without a prescription include medicines containing levonorgestrel (LNG) in more than 80 countries and, recently, based on an EU-switch ellaOne®, which contains ulipristal acetate (UPA). EHCs work by stopping or delaying ovulation. Those containing LNG can be used up to 72 hours after USI or contraceptive failure, while UPA can be used up to 120 hours. In the context of the UPA implementation process, Germany switched LNG to non-prescription status as well.

Objectives: To develop recommendations, a protocol, and a continuing education program for pharmacists to assure quality when giving advice and dispensing EHCs in community pharmacies without a medical prescription.

Methods: The recommendations were developed by an iterative process of drafting, recognizing, and discussing comments and proposals for amendments as well a seeking agreement with a number of stakeholders such as the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), Federal Chamber of Physicians (BÄK), Drug Commission of German Physicians (AkdÄ), professional organizations/associations of gynaecologists, pharmaceutical OTC-industry as well as government-controlled, private, and church-based organizations and centres providing advice on sex education and family planning.

Results: The recommendations were eventually endorsed by the BMG in consultation with the BfArM.

Conclusions: The recommendations were made public, published in the professional journal and used in an uncounted number of continuing education programs based on the curriculum and provided by the State Chambers of Pharmacists.

Keywords: Community Pharmacy Services; Contraception; Germany; Pharmacies; Postcoital; Practice Guidelines as Topic.