Women in chance sex encounters can receive the morning-after pill by courier from next week
Morning after pill can be ordered online and delivered to an address in London within two hours for 20
15:34 GMT, 16 April 2012
Women will soon be able to get emergency contraception delivered by courier to the office – the morning after.
A ‘pill-by-bike’ service is being launched in London to save women from visiting their GP or waiting for the post to arrive.
This is the first time the morning after pill will be delivered to the door like a business contract, with the service prompted by customer demand.
Women will be asked to fill out a form online and confirm they are 18 or over.
Anyone wanting the morning after pill service would have to give their date of birth during registration and need a credit card
The form is assessed by a doctor, with the pill delivered up to two hours later on a normal working day, although it may be possible to order online overnight and book a time for delivery the next day.
The service costs 20 and is being offered by online medical practice DrEd.com, which says the pill comes in ‘discreet packaging’.
But critics claim ‘contraception-by-courier’ service may encourage underage sex by making the morning after pill easier to access.
Norman Wells, from the Family Education Trust, said girls could easily lie about their age to access the pills and it should remain a prescription-only drug.
Amit Khutti, co-founder and managing director of DrEd.com, said it was taking reasonable steps to ensure the morning after pill did not fall into the hands of underage girls.
Anyone wanting the service would have to give their date of birth during registration and need a credit card.
He said: ‘I don’t think this service is going to appeal to minors or encourage underage sex. For a start, you need to pay for the service and if you’re young there are a number of places you can already get the morning after pill for free.
‘You also need a credit card to order our service, which is another barrier, and you’ll have to personally sign for delivery.
‘It will arrive at the office in discreet packaging so women won’t be embarrassed. Socially, some people are still put off by having to answer questions face to face about why they need emergency contraception.’
Mr Khutti said that previously the company could only offer emergency contraception in advance online because of problems ensuring it arrived in time to work – it is most effective within 36 hours of having sex.
He said: ‘It’s not ethical to provide a service that arrives too late. We noticed women were prepared to pay for next day special delivery to ensure timely arrival and the courier service is very competitively priced.
People get all sorts of things delivered to work these days because it’s more convenient than staying in at home.’
He said women would be able to book for delivery within two hours Monday to Friday, or register out of hours for a pill to be delivered the next day.
The courier service will begin in London this month through Shutl, which usually delivers for Argos, Oasis and Maplin electronics.
It will be extended to other cities if it proves successful, along with other services such as treatment for sexually transmitted infections and erectile dysfunction.
DrEd.com is registered with the Care Quality Commission, the patient safety watchdog.
The company, which launched in the UK last September and also offers services in Germany and Austria, works with pharmacy chain Day Lewis to dispense medication.
Mr Wells of the Family Education Trust said making the morning after pill more available had not cut accidental pregnancies or abortion rates, and it should stay under the control of doctors.
He said: ‘There is also a danger that the service could be used by the abusers of underage girls. The faceless nature of the service makes it all too easy for them to register on the site giving a false name and medical history and then to order the morning-after pill on behalf of their victim in an attempt to conceal their crime.
‘Since the morning-after pill was first approved for use in the UK, various schemes have been introduced to make it more widely and more easily available, yet the international research evidence continues to show that making it more readily available has not succeeded in reducing unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.
‘Instead, young people in particular have been lulled into a false sense of security, take a more casual attitude to sex, and become exposed to an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.’
Pharmacies already offer the morning-after pill over the counter for around 25. In 2010/11 about 120,000 – the equivalent of 2,300 a week – were prescribed in an effort to ease the workload of GPs.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has an online service where women can request emergency contraception and stock up in advance.
They speak to a nurse by phone before it is delivered free of charge to their home.