It has been reported that though the pill, Levonelle, has been licensed for use in Ireland since late 2001, those who wish to use it must have a doctor's prescription. The pharmacists in this respect believe that the drug should be available over the counter, as is the case in the UK.
Michael Guckian, the president of IPU has stated that many people come into pharmacies at the weekend wanting to obtain urgently the morning after pill. He further pointed out that many of them claim their inability and difficulty for obtaining an appointment with their GP at the weekend.
Explaining that pharmacists were however available at weekends and that they do already provide advice to patients on a wide range of sexual health issues, Mr Guckian referred to a that was study published in the British Medical Journal last year, which found that by having the morning after pill available directly from pharmacists in the UK did not lead to an increase in its use or to a decrease in the use of other forms of contraception.
Mr Guckian while emphasising that enabling Irish pharmacists to provide the drug over the counter should only be done with the appropriate counselling and within agreed protocols, said that the morning after pill should never be the only form of contraception used.
It has been reported that before the approval of Levonelle in Ireland in 2001, doctors and clinicians, at their discretion, gave around four high dose oestrogen pills to women, which had to be taken within 72 hours of having sex and often made patients feel sick.
The Irish Medicines Board had previously refused to licence Levonelle because it viewed it as 'abortifacient' that is a drug used to induces an abortion or miscarriage. It was further reported that the drug was approved for use in Ireland in November 2001, after elaborate consultations with medical and legal experts.