New guidance for patients on how the emergency contraceptive can be affected by other medicines has been issued by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
The MHRA has produced a new information sheet, available through prescribers and pharmacists, advising what women need to do to ensure they receive effective emergency contraception.
“This is important new advice for women”
It highlights that women needing the emergency contraceptive pill containing levonogestrel should inform their healthcare professional if they are currently taking medicines for certain conditions.
It was “important” that women told their doctor, nurse or pharmacist if they were currently taking medicines to treat epilepsy, tuberculosis, HIV or fungal infections, said the MHRA guidance.
Patients should also notify a clinician if they were taking herbal remedies such as St John’s Wort, as these may reduce how well the emergency contraceptive works, the guidance noted.
It stated that in such circumstances, to protect against unwanted pregnancies, women may need to take a double dose of the emergency contraceptive – two packs – in order for it to be effective.
Dr Sarah Branch, deputy director of MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division, said: “This is important new advice for women who want to use the emergency contraceptive pill.
“Our new patient information sheet provides information on what types of medicines could interfere with how the emergency contraceptive works,” she said. “It tells women what steps they need to take to ensure they receive the correct dose.
“The earlier that emergency contraception is taken after unprotected intercourse, the better it works,” she added.