The Palaszczuk Government is moving to make the oral contraceptive pill and Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) medications more easily accessible for women over the counter at pharmacies.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ask the Federal Government to support the “down schedule” of the oral contraceptive pill so women can get it more regularly from pharmacies without having to renew their initial prescription.
In the meantime, the Premier today announced – on International Women’s Day – that her government would make changes which would allow women to obtain an interim supply if their prescription had expired.
“It will mean when a woman can’t get her usual repeat pill prescription, pharmacists will be allowed to provide one full pack of her usual pill,” the Premier said.
“Most women who take the pill have done so since they were teenagers and are used to managing their reproductive health.
“But there are situations where a woman can’t get an appointment with their doctor or can’t make one.
“The changes we’re making by the end of the year will make women’s lives easier.
“It will also mean we’re freeing up GP waiting rooms, so women are not necessarily burdened with the extra cost or time to just fill a script.”
The Premier called on the Federal Government to go one step further.
“We’re asking the Federal Government to down-schedule the pill so that in the future, pharmacists can supply the pill more regularly, where it is safe to do so,” the Premier said.
“These changes are about improving reproductive healthcare for women in Queensland and in particular, regional Queensland where sometimes it’s easier to access a pharmacy than a doctor.”
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said current provisions only included oral contraception listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
“Currently only some types or brands of the pill can be dispensed by a pharmacist when a script has expired, excluding around half of Queensland women who take the pill regularly,” Mr Miles said.
“It will provide more options for women if their pill prescription has expired or run out of repeats and are unable to get to a doctor.
“A pharmacist will be able to supply a full standard pack, which usually lasts between one and four months depending on the product, once within a 12-month period.”
The proposed changes are expected to be in effect by late 2020, pending changes to the new Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019.
All women will still need to consult with a GP when they are considering contraceptive methods for the first time to determine the best options for them.
The Premier said her government was also working on improving access to medicines for the management of urinary tract infections (UTIs) through pharmacies.
“I know many women affected by UTIs and time is critical in treating these infections,” the Premier said.
“All women can get UTIs and, if not treated in time, women can end up in hospital.
“If we can ease women’s discomfort and prevent them from possibly ending up in hospital by making these common medicines readily available for them without a prescription at the pharmacy then that’s a win in my books.”
Queensland Health has engaged a consortium led by the Queensland University of Technology to manage the development and implementation of a state-wide trial of the management of UTIs by pharmacists.
The consortium is made up of Queensland and international universities and industry organisations.
The state-wide trial is expected to commence by mid-2020.