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      Opinions of West Texas pharmacists about emergency contraception

      Pharmacy Practice (Granada)

      Centro de Investigaciones y Publicaciones Farmaceuticas

      Estados Unidos, Pharmacists, Ethics, Pharmacy, United States, Contracepción postcoital, Farmacéuticos, Ética, farmacia, Contraception, Postcoital

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          Background: The pharmacist’s role in dispensing emergency contraception (EC) has become controversial due to the intersection of personal and professional ethics. Therefore, to examine the issue of EC availability, we surveyed a sample of West Texas pharmacists. West Texas is a religiously and politically conservative region where no methods of EC have been made available. Objective: to survey a sample of pharmacists in West Texas about their experience, beliefs, and knowledge of EC both before and after a presentation of the current literature about EC. Methods: We asked a convenience sample of 75 pharmacists about their experience, beliefs, and knowledge of EC both before and after a presentation of the current literature about EC. Results: Sixty-four (85%) pharmacists agreed to complete the study questionnaire. None carries EC in his/her pharmacy, and scientific understanding of EC was generally poor. Fourteen percent stated EC conflicts with their religious views, 17% considered it a method of abortion, 11% would not be willing to fill an EC prescription written by a doctor. 58% would be willing to offer EC over the counter. The presentation encouraged more to offer it over the counter, but in general did not significantly change their beliefs. Conclusion: Our sample of West Texas pharmacists demonstrated very little experience with, a general lack of knowledge about, and some personal and religious objections to EC.

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          Most cited references 55

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          Direct access to emergency contraception through pharmacies and effect on unintended pregnancy and STIs: a randomized controlled trial.

          It is estimated that half of unintended pregnancies could be averted if emergency contraception (EC) were easily accessible and used. To evaluate the effect of direct access to EC through pharmacies and advance provision on reproductive health outcomes. A randomized, single-blind, controlled trial (July 2001-June 2003) of 2117 women, ages 15 to 24 years, attending 4 California clinics providing family planning services, who were not desiring pregnancy, using long-term hormonal contraception or requesting EC. Participants were assigned to 1 of the following groups: (1) pharmacy access to EC; (2) advance provision of 3 packs of levonorgestrel EC; or (3) clinic access (control). Primary outcomes were use of EC, pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) assessed at 6 months; secondary outcomes were changes in contraceptive and condom use and sexual behavior. Women in the pharmacy access group were no more likely to use EC (24.2%) than controls (21.0%) (P = .25). Women in the advance provision group (37.4%) were almost twice as likely to use EC than controls (21.0%) (P<.001) even though the frequency of unprotected intercourse was similar (39.8% vs 41.0%, respectively, P = .46). Only half (46.7%) of study participants who had unprotected intercourse used EC over the study period. Eight percent of participants became pregnant and 12% acquired an STI; compared with controls, women in the pharmacy access and advance provision groups did not experience a significant reduction in pregnancy rate (pharmacy access group: adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.58-1.64; P = .93; advance provision group: OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.66-1.84, P = .71) or increase in STIs (pharmacy access group: adjusted OR, 1.08, 95% CI, 0.71-1.63, P = .73; advance provision group: OR, 0.94, 95% CI, 0.62-1.44, P = .79). There were no differences in patterns of contraceptive or condom use or sexual behaviors by study group. While removing the requirement to go through pharmacists or clinics to obtain EC increases use, the public health impact may be negligible because of high rates of unprotected intercourse and relative underutilization of the method. Given that there is clear evidence that neither pharmacy access nor advance provision compromises contraceptive or sexual behavior, it seems unreasonable to restrict access to EC to clinics.
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            Randomised controlled trial of levonorgestrel versus the Yuzpe regimen of combined oral contraceptives for emergency contraception. Task Force on Postovulatory Methods of Fertility Regulation.

            A previous randomised study suggested that the progestagen, levonorgestrel, given alone in two separate doses each of 0.75 mg caused nausea and vomiting in fewer women and might be more effective than the Yuzpe regimen of combined oral contraceptives for emergency contraception, although the difference was not significant. We compared these two regimens when started within 72 h of unprotected coitus. We enrolled in the double-blind, randomised trial 1998 women at 21 centres worldwide. Women with regular menses, not using hormonal contraception, and requesting emergency contraception after one unprotected coitus, received levonorgestrel (0.75 mg, repeated 12 h later) or the Yuzpe regimen (ethinyloestradiol 100 microg plus levonorgestrel 0.5 mg, repeated 12 h later). Outcome was unknown for 43 women (25 assigned levonorgestrel, 18 assigned Yuzpe regimen). Among the remaining 1955 women, the crude pregnancy rate was 1.1% (11/976) in the levonorgestrel group compared with 3.2% (31/979) in the Yuzpe regimen group. The crude relative risk of pregnancy for levonorgestrel compared with the Yuzpe regimen was 0.36 (95% CI 0.18-0.70). The proportion of pregnancies prevented (compared with the expected number without treatment) was 85% (74-93) with the levonorgestrel regimen and 57% (39-71) with the Yuzpe regimen. Nausea (23.1 vs 50.5%) and vomiting (5.6 vs 18.8%) were significantly less frequent with the levonorgestrel regimen than with the Yuzpe regimen (p<0.01). The efficacy of both treatments declined with increasing time since unprotected coitus (p=0.01). The levonorgestrel regimen was better tolerated and more effective than the current standard in hormonal emergency contraception. With either regimen, the earlier the treatment is given, the more effective it seems to be.
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              Emergency postcoital contraception.

               A Glasier (1997)

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