Accessibility of oral emergency contraceptives in Australian community pharmacies

Contraception. 2024 May 4:110480. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2024.110480. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: To assess the availability of over-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills in the Australian community pharmacy setting.

Study design: Representative national telephone survey.

Results: Only 70% of the 233 pharmacies surveyed stocked ulipristal acetate (UPA) emergency contraceptive pills, compared to levonorgestrel, which was stocked in 98%. When ulipristal acetate was stocked, it was on average $13 more expensive.

Conclusions: Despite being recommended as the first-line oral emergency contraceptive, UPA is less likely to be available, and when available, it is likely to be more expensive. These findings support anecdotal reports UPA is challenging to access and less commonly used.

Implications: Strategies are urgently required to improve equitable access to all methods of oral emergency contraception within the Australian community pharmacy setting and ensure pharmacists are aware of key differences between the available methods. This will ensure that they are prepared to facilitate shared decision making based on the individual needs of each woman.

Keywords: Community pharmacy; Emergency contraception; Levonorgestrel; Ulipristal acetate.