SEOUL, May 23 (Korea Bizwire) – The current legislation for postcoital contraceptive pills (also known as emergency contraceptive pills, or the ‘morning-after pill’), which require a doctor’s prescription for purchase, will continue unchanged.
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety revealed that after a comprehensive review of contraceptives’ actual usage statistics, side effects, and general public awareness, it would continue to categorize emergency contraceptives as ethical drugs.
Ethical drugs, also referred to in Korea as ETC drugs, are defined as drugs that require a doctor’s prescription for usage, and the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety revealed that the decision to keep emergency contraceptives under the category of ETC drugs was due to serious concern over the possible abuse of these contraceptives by the public.
On the other hand, the ministry will maintain its categorization of regular contraceptive pills, which are to be taken prior to sexual intercourse, as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Recent trends show that the production and imports of emergency contraceptive pills are both increasing – growing from 2.8 billion won to 4.4 billion won in 2014 and then 4.2 billion won in 2015 – according to a study on contraceptives’ actual usage statistics, side effects, and general public awareness conducted between 2013 and 2015 by the Korea Institute of Drug Safety & Risk Management on 6,500 individuals of both genders between 15 and 59 years of age.
And yet, the study also found that only 44 percent of females in the study had accurate knowledge about emergency contraceptive pills, such as their side effects.
Emergency contraceptive pills, which are taken after sexual intercourse, are commonly taken for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. Emergency contraceptive pills were designed based on the principle of administering a peak concentration of progesterone in order to cause a hormonal change that induces the uterus’ inner wall to detach, which impedes fertilized eggs from implanting.
However, this method poses a high risk of side effects compared to regular OTC contraceptive pills in that the drastic hormonal change could be a considerable burden on the female body.
Emergency contraceptive pills are known to be effective only when taken within 72 hours following sexual intercourse, and the contraception is ordinarily about 95 percent effective if taken up to 24 hours after sexual intercourse.
The longer the time between sexual intercourse and oral administration of the drug, the less effective the contraceptive pills are; the success rate declines to 85 percent if taken within 48 hours, and 58 percent if taken within 72 hours.
Common contraceptive pills (oral contraceptive pills), to be taken at the same time every day even without sexual intercourse, are OTC pills and can be purchased at pharmacies by anyone without a prescription. Their effectiveness is comparatively high, while the likelihood of side effects is low.
By Esther J. Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)