Nikita Patel, managing pharmacist at Pyramid Pharmacy in Walthamstow, tells Saša Janković about supplying the new OTC progesterone contraceptive pill.
Service type: Progesterone contraceptive pill supply
Name and location of pharmacy: Pyramid Pharmacy, Walthamstow High Street
Name of pharmacist: Nikita Patel
Why did you start offering this service?
As we now have two progesterone contraceptives approved by the MHRA for pharmacy supply, we thought this was definitely something we should offer because it’s such a convenient service for women. Booking an appointment with a GP has become so much more difficult over the last year, so this means women can come in and access the contraceptive pill from us in as little as 15-20 minutes, along with guidance on how and when to take it.
Another reason for us is because our EHC service sees quite a few returning customers, so it’s useful to be able to talk to them about why they should consider taking the pill rather than having repeated supplies of EHC, and then be able to supply it as well. Our service was launched at the beginning of August 2021.
How much did it cost to set up the service?
What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?
Pharmacists are well used to supplying contraceptive pills on prescription and talking to patients about how to take them, but as this is a new product and one that we can start patients on as well, I made sure I completed all the online training that came out when the products were launched.
Because every contact counts, we also made sure all our counter staff knew how to talk to women asking about the new pill, and how to reassure them when they were referring them on to the pharmacist for the consultation.
In a nutshell, what does the service involve?
I take the patient to the consultation room so I can go through the supply protocol checklist with them. This covers questions about the age of the patient, if there’s a possibility that they may be pregnant, if they experience bleeding before or after sex or in between periods, if they have any health conditions or allergies, and whether they are currently taking any medication including herbal or OTC products. If they meet the criteria I can supply them with the pill, with a maximum supply for women aged over 18 of 12 months in one go – unless they are starting on it for the first time – or 3 months if they are aged under 18.
Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?
When they have their seven-day pill break if they are not using the right protection then we do offer EHC if they need it. And of course with the pill you need to have your blood pressure checked and GPs weren’t offering that, so we can do it and give the patient a note of their results to pass on to their GP.
How have patients responded to the service?
The women we have seen for the service so far have said they are so pleased to be able to access the pill in pharmacy this way as it is so convenient for them.
Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?
We have only seen a couple of patients so far, but I’m sure that now it’s being advertised on TV we can expect more women to come in and ask us about the service.
How much do you charge for the service?
It is free for anyone under 18, but over 18s have to pay £28 for a month’s supply.
Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?
It’s not mandatory, but I would definitely recommend that other contractors get involved with this because it’s convenient for women and further raises the profile of what community pharmacy is capable of.
Read about what other pharmacies are doing to support women's health in our Clinical Ambassadors series.