Women are now able to buy the emergency contraceptive ellaOne (ulipristal acetate, 30mg) from UK pharmacies without a prescription, its manufacturer has confirmed.
The drug was granted marketing authorisation as a non-prescription medicine in the EU in January 2015, says HRA Pharma, which has now launched its new ‘Pharmacy’ packs in the UK. The authorisation followed a recommendation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in November 2014 to reclassify the emergency hormonal contraceptive.
Ulipristal acetate can be used to prevent unintended pregnancy if taken within 120 hours (five days) of unprotected intercourse or if a contraceptive method has failed. It works by preventing or delaying ovulation and works best if taken within 24 hours.
“ellaOne is the most effective emergency hormonal contraceptive available,” says Tony Fraser, general manager of HRA Pharma UK and Ireland, based in London. “I am delighted to see the new P packs going out for sale under the supervision of a pharmacist direct to those in need.”
Levonorgestrel-containing emergency contraceptives are already available without prescription in most EU countries and are licensed for use up to 72 hours after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure.
Following the reclassification recommendation by the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society welcomed the move, noting that it widened the options for women at risk of unplanned pregnancy.