After-sex pill popular

By JENI FAULKNER

PHARMACIST David Metcalf, from the Palms Centre Pharmacy, supplies at least one woman a day with the morning-after pill, but he doesn't believe this should be a cause for concern.

"The morning-after pill is a controversial issue," Mr Metcalf said.

"But I believe having it readily available is better than a woman who could later be faced with an unwanted pregnancy."

The Palms Centre Pharmacy is not the only chemist in the State which has seen a demand for the over-the-counter drug.

Since the emergency contraception became readily available last year its sales have soared by 60 per cent.

Its manufacturer, Schering, would not confirm figures but said numbers had risen by more than half since 2003.

For this reason the Australian Medical Association (AMA) is concerned the drug could be used for convenience rather than emergency.

Despite this, though, Mr Metcalf feels it is still important to provide the drug over the counter.

"Pharmacists receive detailed training and counselling about how to deal with a woman who asks for the morning-after pill," he said.

"If I have doubts about someone and their age I will arrange for an urgent doctor's appointment."

Mr Metcalf said he had said no to girls who were too young to understand what they were taking, girls he felt were younger than 16 years but, he said, this did not happen too often.

"There is limited data available on how many young girls take the drug but this is not like buying something in the supermarket, we monitor who takes it and how often," he said.

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president, John Bell, said he believed pharmacists were fulfilling their duty of care.

"The increased uptake of the product reflects a greater awareness of it and the fact that, because it is available more conveniently, then it is being more properly used."



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