Indian Health Ministry approves sale of Emergency contraceptives as over the counter drug

by Medindia Content Team on  September 9, 2005 at 8:07 PM Drug News
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Indian Health Ministry approves sale of Emergency contraceptives as over the counter drug
Emergency contraceptives will be available in pharmacies as over the counter drug with out medical prescription in India, which will enable women to avoid unnecessary pregnancy. The decision was announced by the Indian Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss, on informing the governments decision the minister said, "The step has been taken to enable women to avoid pregnancy in such situations as unprotected sexual exposure, contraceptive accident or forced sex," Dr. Suneeta Mittal of All India Institute of Medical Sciences [AIIMS], stressed the need of emergency contraceptives as over the counter drug as it will help distress women who are in the burden of unnecessary pregnancy due to unwilling sex or rape as lot of women in India lose their life during unsafe abortions.

The Minister said that the government is following a policy of ABC, which refers to Advocacy, Building capacity of service providers and creating awareness. Dr. Mittal of AIIMS said that a general awareness as to be created among women regarding the sale and uses of Emergency contraceptives and moreover awareness is also to be given to doctors as an earlier survey done by Delhi Medical Association showed that only 40% of doctors had awareness regarding Emergency contraceptives. Contraceptive awareness is also to be increased in India as survey shows that only 48.6% of women as used contraceptives, which results in about 78% of unplanned and 25% of unwanted pregnancies.

Though the successful rate of emergency contraceptives is 95% compared to 99% of regular contraceptives which is being used as a combination of hormones progesterone and estrogen which may produce side effects such as nausea and the usage also has
a controversy as a risk factor for breast cancer. Emergency contraceptive pills have fewer side effects compared to normal contraceptives and costs around 30 rupees and the government wanted to reduce the price. Emergency pills consist of a hormone levonorgestrel, which avoids pregnancy. Dr. Mittal said, "We have a drug which can prevent fertilization and conception. It is important for women's reproductive health," she said. Two 0.75-milligram pills of "levonorgestrel" (a kind of hormone which is produced in the body) are taken, within three days of sexual exposure.

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