The Irish emergency contraception market increased by 2% in current value terms through 2012, to reach a value of €155,000.
Emergency contraception is a birth control measure that, if taken after sexual intercourse, may prevent pregnancy. Emergency contraceptive pills are drugs intended to disrupt or delay ovulation or fertilization, which are necessary for pregnancy.
The level of demand for emergency contraception remained at similar levels to that seen in previous years, when these products were only available on prescription, according to women's health group Well Woman and the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU).
This indicates that fears of the product becoming the contraceptive method of choice for many women once it became available over the counter were unfounded.
Also, whilst there is obvious demand for the product over the counter, the number of women continuing to visit their GP remains high.
According to a new report titled 'Emergency Contraception in Ireland', published on companiesandmarkets.com, in 2010, the morning after pill was prescribed 26,875 times for medical card patients, who pay only a minimal fee per prescribed item, and reimbursed for 695 patients on the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS), with one claim under the long term illness scheme. These numbers fell to 19,899 and 316 respectively in 2011.
There is only one product, NorLevo by HRA Pharma (UK), available over the counter in Ireland. NorLevo can be supplied over the counter under the supervision of a qualified medical professional, including community pharmacists, to any female, regardless of age, as there is no age restriction in the product licence.
As the only brand available over the counter, NorLevo accounted for 100% of retail brand sales in 2012. Levonelle remains available on a prescription basis, with a second prescription product, ellaOne, also becoming available during 2012.
2012 saw the rollout of a new health education campaign developed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) Crisis Emergency Programme and the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU). The campaign promotes the availability of emergency contraception through community pharmacies, and highlights the role pharmacists play in giving sexual health advice and information to the public.
In order to help women easily identify where emergency contraception is available, a new and distinctive sticker, showing a red exclamation mark and the message "Emergency Contraception Available Here" has been developed for display in chemists/pharmacies, with more than 1,600 community pharmacists receiving packs of promotional materials.
For more information on the emergency contraception market, see the latest research: Emergency Contraception Market
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