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Fast pharmacy access to the morning-after pill could prevent 10% more unwanted pregnancies

Pharmacies who provide fast and convenient access to the morning-after pill could be helping to prevent 10 per cent more unwanted pregnancies, according to a study in the latest British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.

UK researchers from South West Kent Primary Care Trust and the University of Bradford looked at 203 females aged from 13 to 20 who got the medication from family planning clinics and community pharmacies.

They discovered that those who went to a pharmacy to get the morning-after pill obtained it more than twice as quickly as those who went to their local clinic in 16 hours rather than 41.

Figures from the World Health Organization suggest that taking emergency contraception up to 24 hours after unprotected sex prevents 95 per cent of pregnancies, while taking it between 24 and 48 hours later prevents 85 per cent.

The study also found that:

  • Older teenagers tended to seek help quicker, with 14 year-olds taking almost four times as long (37 hours) as 20 year-olds (10 hours).
  • The time it took to get the morning-after pill from family planning clinics was much more consistent, with the majority waiting between 38 and 42 hours.
  • 72 per cent of those who obtained the morning-after pill from clinics were aged between 15 and 17, while 74 per cent who went to pharmacies were between 16 and 18.
  • 25 per cent visited the pharmacy over the weekend and 26 per cent on a Monday.
  • Two-thirds of girls under 16 said they needed the morning-after pill because they hadn't used any contraception. The other third blamed split condoms.
  • Two-thirds of those in the 16 plus age group sought the morning-after pill because they had had a contraception failure either the condom had split or they had missed taking the pill.

"The UK currently has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Western Europe and the highest rate of live
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wordwizard@clara.co.uk
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
15-May-2006


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