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The morning-after pill, the government's plan B. National Health Fund announcement: pharmacists will not be punished

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The National Health Fund will not penalize pharmacies if a pharmacist refuses to issue a prescription for emergency contraception to a minor. The president of the Supreme Pharmaceutical Council, Marek Tomków, wrote on website X that “thanks to this, pharmacists can join the pilot without any worries.”

President's announcement National Health Fund regarding the implementation of a pilot program in the field of pharmacist services regarding reproductive health was created after Monday's meeting of the head of the Fund, Filip Nowak, the president of the Supreme Pharmacy Council, Marek Tomkow, and the Minister of Health Izabela Leszczyna.

The President of the National Health Fund assured in a statement issued on Tuesday that the Fund will not penalize pharmacies participating in the pilot program for the morning-after pill if the pharmacist refuses to issue a prescription for emergency contraception or requires the minor patient's parental consent to purchase the pill.

The pharmacy self-government had previously raised doubts about the lower age limit for patients at which pharmacists can issue a prescription for the morning-after pill.

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Read also: Tusk after the president's veto: we are implementing plan B

Elaborated by health department, and the program for pharmacies implemented by the National Health Fund assumes that a pharmacist from a pharmacy participating in the pilot can sell the morning-after pill to a patient from the age of 15. This is the so-called a pharmaceutical service in which a pharmacist interviews the patient and issues a prescription. Neither the consent nor the presence of the minor's guardian is required (unlike when the prescription is issued by a doctor). Pharmacists fear that this solution is illegal.

National Health Fund: there will be no penalties for refusing to issue the morning-after pill to a minor

The President of the National Health Fund informed that neither the requirement for a pharmacist to provide a minor patient with the consent of a guardian to issue a prescription, nor the refusal to provide such a pharmaceutical service to a person under 18 years of age due to the lack of consent of the guardian, “will not constitute a violation of the principles of implementing the pilot program.”

The announcement emphasized that the refusal will not be treated by the National Health Fund as “an unjustified refusal to provide services to a patient entitled to the service provided by the pilot operator under the contract, (…) and as a result – it will not constitute the basis for imposing a contractual penalty.”

The President of the National Health Fund also emphasized that, in accordance with the Act on the profession of pharmacist, he is independent and independent in making decisions regarding professional activities.

After publishing this position, the president of the Supreme Pharmaceutical Council, Marek Tomków, wrote on website X that “thanks to this, pharmacists can join the pilot without any worries.” So far, there has been little interest in participating in the program – according to the National Health Fund, by Thursday, May 9, 165 pharmacies (out of over 12,000 operating in Poland) had submitted applications to join the pilot program.

Less than three percent of pharmacies want to write prescriptions for morning-after pills. “Let's give it some more time”Marzanna Zielińska/Fakty TVN

Plan B for the availability of emergency contraception

For the Ministry of Health, the program is the implementation of Plan B to increase access to emergency contraception.

Abolishing the prescription for the morning-after pill was one of the Civic Coalition's election promises, included in “100 specifics for the first 100 days of the government.” By introducing a pilot program for pharmacies, the Ministry of Health is overriding its veto Andrzej Duda. At the end of March, the president did not agree to sign the bill abolishing prescriptions for the morning-after pill because it allowed people over 15 years of age to purchase it without the consent of a guardian. According to Andrzej Duda, in the case of such young people, parents should consent to the use of the pill.

See also: The president vetoed the law on the morning-after pill

The possibility of selling the emergency contraceptive pill containing ulipristal acetate (trade name ellaOne) was allowed in 2015. European Commission. The decision was based on the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency.

In Poland, the morning-after pill was available over the counter for patients aged 15 and over for two years. The regulation introducing the pill to circulation without a prescription was signed in April 2015 by Bartosz Arłukowicz, Minister of Health in the PO-PSL government, then led by Ewa Kopacz. The prescription was reintroduced in 2017 by the government's Minister of Health PIS Konstanty Radziwiłł. As a result, Poland and Hungary are the only European Union member states where a prescription for this type of contraception is required.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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