Access to medical abortion pill expanded
Following the Senate inquiry into universal access to reproductive health care, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced changes to restrictions around prescribing and dispensing of the medical abortion pills mifepristone and misoprostol.
The decision means that MS-2 Step (mifepristone and misoprostol) can now be prescribed by any healthcare practitioner with appropriate qualifications and training, without the need for certification — this may include nurse practitioners, the TGA said in a statement. “Further, restrictions on dispensing that limited access to registered pharmacists have also been lifted.”
Previously, MS-2 Step was only able to be prescribed by a medical practitioner (a doctor) who had been certified to prescribe the medicine, and then dispensed by a pharmacist who was a registered dispenser.
Noting these revised restrictions, a new warning/instruction has been included in the Product Information, which provides information about circumstances where a person should be referred to a medical practitioner, the statement said.
The TGA’s decision will assist in addressing important access issues for patients who require this medication. “The decision to approve these amendments was informed by expert advice from the Advisory Committee on Medicines, an independent committee with expertise in scientific, medical and clinical fields and including consumer representation.”
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) welcomed the decision. The decision means from 1 August 2023, pharmacists will no longer need to be registered or undertake specific training to dispense MS-2 Step to patients across Australia.
PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS said, “This approach recognises that pharmacists are medicine experts, and that dispensing MS-2 Step and counselling patients on its use is already within the scope of practice of pharmacists.
“By removing unnecessary red tape, pharmacists can help more Australian women access reproductive care, in line with international experience.
“Pharmacists follow a robust process to ensure all medicines are dispensed safely and effectively.
“Community pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professional for many Australians and play a critical role to ensure women’s equitable access to reproductive care, especially in rural and remote areas.
“As the Co-Chair of the Access, Care and Outcomes Subcommittee of the National Women’s Health Advisory Council chaired by Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney, I welcome this TGA decision to improve women’s access to reproductive care.”
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