Access to abortion pills will be significantly expanded after Australia’s drug and medicine regulator today announced several restrictions will be removed.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has said the common medication MS-2 Step will now be able to be prescribed by doctors and nurses without specialist training and to be dispensed at all pharmacies.
The decision will take effect from 1 August.
What are the abortion pills?
MS-2 Step is a combination of two pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol. The pills can terminate a standard pregnancy up to 63 days (nine weeks).
Under previous rules, MS-2 Step could only be prescribed by specially-certified doctors and dispensed by registered pharmacists.
Currently, 1 in 10 doctors are certified to prescribe MS-2 Step and 3 in 10 pharmacists are registered to dispense it.
Easier access in Australia
The non-profit pharmaceutical company MS Health, which supplies the abortion pills in Australia, applied to the TGA to relax these requirements.
The TGA announced today it had approved this application. From 1 August, MS 2-Step can be dispensed at any pharmacy and prescribed by any qualified healthcare practitioner, which the TGA says may include nurses.
In response, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), which oversees government funding for medications, has announced it will recognise nurses as approved prescribers.
Both the TGA and PBAC said their decisions would address “important access issues” for patients.
The Federal Government welcomed the decision. Ged Kearney, Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, said women currently experience structural barriers to accessing the medication.
“These changes recognise the importance of health practitioners that women see regularly – their GP, their nurse practitioner and their community pharmacist.”