Notice stirs debate on morning-after pill sales in Turkey

Notice stirs debate on morning-after pill sales in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Notice stirs debate on morning-after pill sales in Turkey

The Health Ministry has released a statement saying the sale of drugs without a prescription is against the law and against human health, raising worries about whether contraception pills will still be sold without doctors' orders. DAILY NEWS photo / Hasan ALTINIŞIK

A recent Health Ministry directive reminding the public about limits on the sale of drugs without a prescription has raised concern that the notice will prevent the sale of emergency contraception pills without doctor’s orders.

Some media reports had said emergency contraception and normal contraception would not be sold without a prescription after the ministry’s notice. The ministry denied the reports in a written statement, adding that all drugs have to be sold with prescriptions, according to law.

“According to information our ministry has received, it is understood that growth hormones, antibiotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines are sold without a doctor’s prescription,” said the notice, recalling the law on pharmacies dated as 1953, which bans the sale of all drugs without a prescription.

The ministry released a statement yesterday on its website saying the sale of drugs without a prescription was against the law and human health.

The ministry said that upon the “increasing complaints about the sale of drugs, particularly growth hormones, antibiotics, antidepressants, and antihistamines, the ministry’s Turkish drug and medical device institution has sent a notice to the provinces to prevent unconscious and misuse of these drugs.”

The ministry said its aim was to provide citizens secure access to drugs, citing the side effects of some drugs.

Don’t use pills without medical advice: Ministry

The ministry called on people not to use any drugs without doctor’s advice and not to believe in speculation.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Manisa deputy Özgür Özel told the Hürriyet Daily News that the law on pharmacies was not applied for all drugs in practice.

“The state controls the sale of certain drugs, but simple drugs and things like contraceptives can be sold without a prescription,” he said, but added that the recent notice raised concerns about whether this de facto practice would be ended, ensuring that the sale of contraceptives would be stricter, thus placing additional pressures on people.

Meanwhile, a majority of the pharmacies reached by the Daily News yesterday said they sold the emergency contraceptives without a prescription, while some stated that they had heard of the media reports on the issue.

However, one pharmacy in Ankara said they did not sell the drug without a prescription, citing the ministry’s notice as a reason.