IPPF EN is delighted at the Polish government’s decision on 14 January to make emergency contraception available over the counter, without prescription. In a country where legal abortion is almost impossible to obtain, this decision will at least help women to avoid unplanned pregnancies.
Poland’s decision follows the European Commission’s move on 13 January to authorise emergency contraceptive ellaOne® to be accessible direct from pharmacies in EU countries without the need for prescription from a doctor. According to a press release from Laboratoire HRA Pharma, the marketing authorization holder for ellaOne:
“This is the first ever decision of its type regarding any oral contraceptive product applicable to all EU Member States, according to national implementation procedures… This new ruling will empower over 120 million women across the whole EU to gain direct access to emergency contraception.”
This is a legally-binding decision which follows an earlier positive opinion from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which concluded that ellaOne® works best if used during the first 24 hours, and can be used safely without a medical prescription.
Polish NGO Federation for Women and Family Planning, which recently launched a petition to call on their government to bring its rules in line with the EU recommendations, welcomed the announcement by the Polish Health Ministry. Their petition gathered 10,000 signatures in 3 days, reflecting strong public support. However, they argue, more support is still needed to ensure swift implementation of the new rules. Read more and sign the petition here: http://www.federa.org.pl/english/1416-emergency-contraception-to-be-sold-over-the-counter-in-poland.