Birth control pills are sold over the counter in the UK for the first time without a prescription

Birth control pills are sold over-the-counter for the first time as drug watchdog approves plan for two different brands

  • Women can access Pill without written consent for just £10 a month
  • Open to women of childbearing potential under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist
  • Following a safety assessment and public consultation by the UK medicines watchdog

British women will soon be able to buy the Pill without a prescription.

Drug regulators have approved two brands of the contraceptive, called Lovima and Hana, to be made available without written consent.

The move, which has been called a “historic milestone for women’s health,” is the first of its kind since the pill was first approved 60 years ago.

MPs say the change will reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and abortions and relieve some pressure from GP surgeries and sexual health clinics.

Both brands will be available to all women of childbearing age, including teens who meet the delivery criteria.

The decision follows a safety assessment and public consultation by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) earlier this year.

Regulators have approved two brands of birth control pills - known as Lovima and Hana - to be available without a prescription

Regulators have approved two brands of birth control pills – known as Lovima and Hana – to be available without a prescription

The move was welcomed by consumer health organization PAGB.

Chief executive Michelle Riddalls said: ‘Making these progestogen-only contraceptive pills available over the counter in the UK is a historic milestone for women and women’s health.

‘This is the first time any form of daily contraceptive pill has been approved for over-the-counter sale in the UK, 60 years after the pill was originally offered by the NHS – initially only for married women.

Enabling women to buy the progestogen-only pill in pharmacies will be particularly beneficial at a time when access to sexual health services has become more difficult in parts of the UK due to pressure on NHS resources and the Covid pandemic. ‘

A qualified pharmacist oversees each sale and uses a checklist to identify women to whom the medicine can be safely supplied.

The MHRA said that for those under 18, and especially those under 16 who wanted the Pill, “it remained essential to ensure that the girl is not being exploited or abused.”

Nearly nine in ten women in England – about 3.1 million – who use contraception are taking the pill, figures from 2018 show.

The ‘traditional’ progestogen-only pill prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching an egg.

It should be taken reliably every day and is 99 percent effective when taken correctly.

The Lovima and Hana pills are also progestin-only and contain desogestrel, which can help stop ovulation.

Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “This landmark reclassification, which has been widely supported by women and healthcare professionals during the recent consultation, will allow women to purchase a progestogen-only contraceptive from a pharmacy after a detailed consultation.” with the pharmacist.

“This provides an additional avenue for those seeking contraception and helps reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and sexual health clinics, with the potential to reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.”

“Pharmacists already provide a range of sexual and reproductive health services and are trained practitioners experienced in checking the suitability of all the products they supply.”


Birth control pills that contain estrogen can make blood clot more easily.

This can lead to a clot in the leg, known as a deep vein thrombosis, or in the lung, called a pulmonary embolism.

Blood clots can also cause a heart attack or stroke.

The risk of developing a blood clot from the Pill is ‘very small’.

Nevertheless, a doctor is unlikely to prescribe the contraceptive if a woman has two or more of the following risk factors:

  • 35 years or older
  • Smokes or quit in the past year
  • Is very overweight
  • Have migraines or high blood pressure
  • Have had a blood clot or stroke before
  • Had a close relative who developed a clot before 45
  • Has been immobile for a long time, such as wheelchair users

Source: NHS