New five-day emergency contraceptive on sale in Britain

Monday, November 1, 2010

LONDON - A new emergency contraceptive pill, which can reportedly be taken up to five days after intercourse, is being sold online in Britain. But experts are wary about the pill that they say is untested.

The pill - called ellaOne - works for longer than the regular “morning-after” pill and is more effective, the company says, adding that it can “help stop an accident from becoming something more life-changing”, the Daily Mail reported.

But there are fears among experts that making it available at the click of a button will fuel unhindered sexual behaviour, and that an internet message cannot carry out the same health checks as doctors.

Side-effects of the tablets reportedly range from vomiting, nausea and back pain to migraines to disorientation, tremors and kidney stones.

EllaOne, which is reportedly available free from doctors, is being sold online for 49.95 pounds by HealthExpress, a London-based company which specialises in the sale of Viagra, diet pills and treatments for hair loss.

It works by stopping the female sex hormone progesterone from releasing eggs. It also thickens the entrance to the womb, making it harder for sperm to fertilise any egg that has already been released.

But anti-abortion campaigners say that taken five days after sex, ellaOne will be aborting an embryo, rather than preventing one from forming in the first place.

The online service is intended for those aged 18 and over, but a younger girl could simply input a false date of birth, the report said.

Buyers need to fill in an online form. If they are deemed to be in good health by the company’s doctors, they pay by credit or debit card and the order is delivered the next day.

Josephine Quintavalle, of campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “Over the internet you have no idea of the real age or medical history of the applicants, who can tell any stories they like.”

Philippa Taylor, of Christian charity Care, said: “No one is looking out for the best interests of the girls.”

“There are real health issues. If a girl is taking these strong hormonal tablets from a young age, there could be a huge impact on her health and welfare.”

Filed under: Drugs, Medicine, World

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