Queenslanders will be able to access the pill without a prescription by the end of the year, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on International Women’s Day.
The move will initially only allow for pharmacies to dispense one emergency pack every 12 months when an existing prescription has expired. Depending on the product, the pack should last for one to four months.
“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,” Palaszczuk 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.”
Palaszczuk also announced she would write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to request that the federal government “down schedule” oral contraceptive pills so that women will never need to renew their initial prescription in order to access them.
The policy was first trialed in 2019 and attracted critics at the time.
Dr Harry Nespolon, President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, condemned the Queensland government in a statement last year.
“While it may sound like a straightforward matter to prescribe medications for contraception and urinary tract infections, the Queensland Government clearly has not taken into account the complexities that can be involved in a patient visiting their GP for a script for antibiotics or the pill,” he said.
“General practice is so effective in Australia because GPs treat the whole patient, not just a symptom.
“When a woman comes in for a repeat prescription of a pill, I make sure to check her blood pressure and look into any possible any side effects.
“I provide advice on if a longer term contraceptive may be best, check if she is due for a cervical screening and discuss her long-term fertility plans.
“These are conversations that will simply not happen in a pharmacy.”
However at the time of the trial, Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical Guild of Australia Pam Price took the opposite opinion, calling it a “sensible and progressive decision.”
The Queensland government has also announced measures to expand a statewide trial making UTI medication more accessible in addition to contraceptives.