Statement: GPs warn against allowing Pharmacists dispense all contraceptives without prescription
Statement issued by the IMO - 11 April 2018
The GP Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has criticised a proposal from the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) that contraceptives should be made available direct from pharmacies, without prescription and without any consultation with GPs.
The Irish Pharmacy Union has proposed that pharmacists should have responsibility for a State-funded contraceptive service for women covering the full range of contraceptive options for women without any requirement for a GP consultation or prescription.
Speaking today, Dr. Padraig McGarry said that such a proposal would undermine efforts to provide women with a comprehensive sexual health programme. Dr. McGarry said that a move like this was part of a trend of trying to disengage patients from regular contact with their GPs when such contact was vital to ensure that there was a well-established link between GPs and patient and a rounded knowledge of a patient's circumstances and health record.
Dr. McGarry also warned that a move like this would go against the long-established practice of maintaining a distance between the prescriber and provider of medicines; "for generations it has been established practice to separate the prescriber of medicines from the provider / retailer of medicines. Removing that separation runs the risk of incentivising the retailer of medicines to dispense for the sake of dispensing rather than on the basis of understood healthcare needs."
Dr. McGarry said; "The GP/Patient relationship works best when there is a strong familiarity between the GP and the patient and a full understanding of the different issues involved in a patient's health. To remove GPs from this relationship around such an important issue as sexual health could lead to unintended consequences and lost knowledge."