Direct pharmacy access to EC does not increase use

April 1, 2005

The ability to obtain emergency contraception (EC) directly from a pharmacist does not mean women would be more inclined to use it than if they only had access through a clinic, according to a randomized, controlled trial of over 2,000 women.

The ability to obtain emergency contraception (EC) directly from a pharmacist does not mean women would be more inclined to use it than if they only had access through a clinic, according to a randomized, controlled trial of over 2,000 women.

The participants, who were between 15 and 24 years of age, were assigned to one of three groups: pharmacy access to EC; advance provision of three packs of levonorgestrel EC, or clinic access (control).

The researchers found that the women with pharmacy access were no more likely to use EC than controls (24.2% vs. 21.0%, respectively; P=0.25), while the women in the advance provision group were almost twice as likely to do so (37.4% vs. 21.0%, respectively; P<0.001), even though the frequency of unprotected intercourse was similar (39.8% vs. 41.0%, respectively, P=0.46) between the groups.

Raine TR, Harper CC, Rocca CH, et al. Direct access to emergency contraception through pharmacies and effect on unintended pregnancy and STIs: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2005;293:54-62.