Dispensing mifepristone for medical abortion in Canada: Pharmacists' experiences of the first year.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Mifepristone for medical abortion was first dispensed by community pharmacists in Canada directly to patients in January 2017. We asked about pharmacists' experiences over their first year dispensing mifepristone in order to evaluate the frequency of the new practice and assess availability in urban/rural pharmacies. METHODS: From August to December 2019, we invited 433 community pharmacists who had completed a baseline survey at least 1 year prior to participate in a follow-up online survey. We summarized categorical data using counts and proportions and conducted a qualitative thematic analysis of open-ended responses. RESULTS: Among 122 participants, 67.2% had dispensed the product, and 48.4% routinely stocked mifepristone. Pharmacists reported a mean of 26 and median of 3 (interquartile range, 1, 8) mifepristone prescriptions filled in their pharmacies in the previous year. Participants perceived that the benefits of making mifepristone available in pharmacies included increased abortion access for patients (n = 115; 94.3%), reduced pressure on the health care system (n = 104; 85.3%), increased rural and remote abortion access (n = 103; 84.4%) and increased interprofessional collaborations (n = 48; 39.3%). Few participants reported challenges to maintaining adequate stock of mifepristone, but these challenges included low demand (n = 24; 19.7%), short expiry dating (n = 12; 9.8%) and drug shortages (n = 8; 6.6%). The overwhelming majority, 96.7%, reported that their communities did not resist the provision of mifepristone by their pharmacy. INTERPRETATION: Participating pharmacists reported many benefits and very few barriers to stocking and dispensing mifepristone. Both urban and rural communities responded positively to enhanced access to mifepristone in their community. CONCLUSIONS: Mifepristone is well accepted by pharmacists within the primary care system in Canada

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