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Most British Pharmacists Support the Morning-After Pill

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"We're asking young people to plan ahead and make sure they're prepared to party safely and enter the new millennium without regrets," says Alison Hadley, the national policy officer for Brooke Advisory Centres. "It just makes sense for women to be prepared," says Ann Furedi of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. "After all, nobody waits for a headache to buy aspirin."

These initiatives in the United Kingdom were followed by a groundbreaking French policy. "School nurses will be able to prescribe the morning-after pill when a doctor or family planning center can't be reached," says Segolene Royal, the Deputy Education Minister of France. The new policy, intended to decrease unwanted pregnancies among teenagers, has sparked a fierce debate on whether it will lead to unprotected sex. In the U.S., some nurses can also prescribe emergency contraception.

"There is no national policy on who can prescribe the morning-after pill," says Michael Burnhill, MD, vice president of medical affairs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Nurses and pharmacists are licensed to prescribe emergency contraception in some states. But I would not be surprised if it's available without a prescription in the next five years." Burnhill says two morning-after pills are currently approved for use in the U.S.

"PREVEN was the first and is a combination of estrogen and norgestrel, a synthetic type of progesterone. Plan B is fairly new and contains only norgestrel, which reduces nausea and vomiting significantly. And research conducted by the World Health Organization indicates that it may also be more effective."

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