Lovima - over the counter contraceptive
Pharmacy insights

Lovima – Over the Counter Contraceptive

Lovima (desogestrel) is the first daily oral contraceptive which is going to be available over the counter without a prescription. In the UK, all contraceptive are prescription-only medicines which require a doctor or other qualified prescriber to issue a prescription. Lovima is the first oral contraceptive which has a status or pharmacy-only medicine (P). P medicines are available over the counter from pharmacies or registered online chemists. Lovima will exclusively be available in Lloyds Pharmacy. In the UK, all oral contraceptives a free of charge when prescribed on NHS, with an uncommon exception for Dianette, which may not be free when prescribed for the treatment of acne. Customers will need to pay for Lovima when supply is made from the pharmacy.

Lovima – ‘mini pill’ available over the counter

Lovima contraceptive pill contains 75mcg or desogestrel, which is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone. Lovima is classified as a progestogen-only-pill (POP) also known as a ‘mini-pill‘. When used correctly, ‘mini pill’ is 99% effective.

Lovima is not a form of emergency contraceptive, which can also be purchased over the counter.

Lovima – how much can you get over the counter?

Lloyds Pharmacy will be offering 28 day supply (one month supply) or a three months supply (84 tablets). Customers will be offered a repeat slip, which allows them to buy up to 12 months of over the counter contraceptive.

How to get Lovima over the counter?

Although details on the supply process of Lovima are not known, customers who request a supply of pharmacy-only medicines usually need to have a consultation with a pharmacist or a trained member of pharmacy, who may ask various questions.

Patients may also be asked to complete a questionnaire which may be reviewed by a pharmacist before the sale. Questions are usually designed to assess suitability and to exclude any customers for whom desogestrel containing contraceptive pill is contraindicated (not suitable). The questionnaire may cover the following:

  • History of liver disease
  • Presence of vaginal bleeding (undiagnosed)
  • Active venous thromboembolic disorder (blood clot)
  • Active or suspected cancer which sensitive to sex-steroids
  • Sensitivity (allergy) to desogestrel or any other ingredient in the pill

With certainty, age restrictions will apply to supply of Lovima over the counter. Licensing detail for the supply of Lovima over the counter are not known yet. Once more information about Lovima comes to light, this post will be updated with relevant information.

Lovima possible side effects

The most commonly reported side effect with all desogestrel containing contraceptives is irregular bleeding which may settle. Other commonly reported side effects with desogestrel contraceptive pill include:

  • acne
  • mood changes
  • breast pain
  • nausea
  • weight increase
  • headache
  • depressed mood
  • libido decreased

How is Lovima taken?

Lovima and other ‘mini-pills’ are taken daily. One tablet is taken at the same time, leaving 24 hours between the taking of two pills.

It is recommended that women start the treatment with a desogestrel contraceptive pill on the first day of menstrual bleeding (day one of the cycle). Following that, one tablet is taken each day continuously (without a break). Women should not take any notice of possible bleeding.

Over the counter contraceptive – alternative options

As previously discussed all contraceptive are free of charge when prescribed on NHS. Having a daily contraceptive prescribed is the most common way of getting contraceptive; however, it may not always be convenient to see a doctor or a nurse.

Women who don’t mind paying for the contraceptive pill have an excellent choice of online services which offer the supply of contraceptives privately1`. Several online pharmacies provide convenient private service allowing women to purchase various contraceptives without seeing a doctor.

Conclusion

Switching Lovima from a prescription-only medication to pharmacy-only medication is a great move, although exclusive availability in Lloyds Pharmacy can be questioned. More efforts need to be made to allow more convenient availability of free daily oral contraceptive over the counter from pharmacies.

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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