CHENNAI: The contraceptive pills seems to have made a comeback in city pharmacies. Many pharmacists claim that the government has allowed them to sell the pills after repeated representations, citing there is no legal ban. However, it is not clear whether the State Drug Controller clarified its stance recently or some pharmacists started selling it on their own.
Many news reports, based on visits to pharmacies, had highlighted that though selling emergency contraceptive pills was not banned, it was impossible to get those as pharmacies claimed it was banned. The New Indian Express too had reported this in 2017. During a trip to a few pharmacies in Chennai on Friday, it was found out that pharmacies were now willing to sell the pills.
When pharmacists associations were contacted, they said earlier pharmaceutical companies assumed pills were banned in Tamil Nadu, but for a year now many are selling. The ban is only on abortion pills.
K Sivabalan, Director, Tamil Nadu Drugs Control Department told The New Indian Express, “There is no ban on contraceptive pills.” On Friday, it came to light to that pharmacies in one place did not have stock of Levonorgestrel(single tablet). Instead Oral contraceptive pills (21 tablets) were offered.
Another pharmacy had the e-pill, and gave it even without prescription. When asked for the bill, the pharmacist denied saying, "We have instructions to sell only on prescription, so cannot give a bill."
Levonorgestrel 1.5-mg pill packet comes with Schedule H Prescription drug caution: Not to be sold by retail without prescription, but Levonorgestrel & Ethinylo Estradiol (21 tablets) didn't have any warning.
K Sivabalan, Director, Tamil Nadu Drugs Control Department said, "There is no ban on contraceptive pills. Many people are confusing contraceptive pills with abortion pills. Abortion pills should be taken only under medical supervision. Any drugs under Schedule H, H1 and X drugs should be sold only on prescription. But contraceptive pills like Mala D, can be sold even without a sales license."
T Natarajan, organising secretary, Tamil Nadu Chemist and Druggist Association, Chennai branch said, "Because of the confusion, many manufacturers stopped supplying. Drug controller also clarified only abortion pills are sold under prescription, but still manufacturers were reluctant to supply. I-pill and other contraceptive pills are OTC drugs. Now, everything has been clarified and we came to know that stocks are arriving shortly."
Meanwhile, Archanaa Sekar, a city-based activist, on Wednesday complained about non-availability of emergency contraceptive pills to the Director, Tamil Nadu Drug Control Department and now officials have been sensitising about availability of the drugs and giving instructions to stock them in pharmacies.
"Any levonorgestrel (single tablet) should be sold without prescription. It is not available because of the confusion. On Wednesday, I sent a complaint and the drug control department acted swiftly and started sending messages to drug inspectors. They also promised that it will be stocked in all pharmacies," said Archanaa.
However, The New Indian Express found that certain brands of emergency contraceptives, Levonorgestrel 1.5mg tablets, come with Schedule H warning and certain brands not. Officials couldn't clarify on this part.