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Morning-after pill 'should be ready to buy off the shelf'

By Ella Pickover

The morning-after pill should be available to buy directly from pharmacy shelves, experts have said.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said the emergency contraceptive pill should be available without an "unnecessary and embarrassing" consultation.

Women in the UK can pay as much as £30 for the birth-control tablet, up to five times more than women in Europe, according to the BPAS, who said the pill can cost as little as €7 (£6) in France. This is due in part to a mandatory consultation with a UK pharmacist before the pill can be bought, it said.

The organisation said that in other countries, such as the US, the medication is available to buy straight from the shelf.

BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi said this was a "sexist surcharge" and called on the Department of Health to launch a review into retail access of emergency contraception.

"It is utterly stupid that we have made a medication which gives women a second chance of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy so hard to obtain," she said.

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