German officials back ‘morning-after’ pill without prescription

Germany's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) advocated on Friday that the so-called 'morning-after' pill be offered without a doctor’s prescription.

German officials back 'morning-after' pill without prescription
Photo: DPA

Department chief Ulrich Hagemann told broadcaster MDR that experts have agreed for years that the emergency contraception should be available without medical consultation in “a situation where there was unprotected sexual intercourse.”

Hagemann said that while there are “certainly side effects,” the number of cases has been drastically reduced and are generally not life-threatening.

One known side effect of the postcoital contraception is intestinal discomfort, but this is bearable, Hagemann told the radio station.

“There are no medical security worries that speak against removing the morning after pill from the list of required prescriptions,” he said, adding that the rule could only be changed by government policy.

But critics have spoken against making the pill readily available, citing possible health risks to women and allegations that it would invite the practice of unsafe sex.

Studies by the World Health Organisation, however, have not found this to be the case in places where the pill is available without prescription.

Emergency contraceptive pills prevent ovulation, fertilisation, and sometimes post-fertilisation implantation of an embryo up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.

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