Researchers conducted this study To explore community pharmacists’ views in the North West of England towards the deregulation of emergency hormonal contraception (EHC) and to examine their support and training needs.

The study design was two focus group discussions.

Fourteen community pharmacists participated, of whom eight were currently participating in a scheme to supply EHC free of charge through a patient group direction (PGD).

Several themes emerged from the discussions, which appeared to influence participants’ views towards EHC and towards deregulation. Several participants seemed to lack detailed knowledge about the mode of action of EHC, and misunderstandings about this, coupled with erroneously held beliefs about the adverse effects of the drug, appeared to influence their attitudes to deregulation. A key and recurring theme was abuse, an ill-defined concept that seemed to refer to multiple or repeated use. Interestingly, none of those participants supplying EHC under a PGD could provide any examples of such abuse from their own experience.

This small-scale study provides useful insights into these pharmacists’ attitudes towards EHC, the impact of increased availability of the drug, and the type of women they believed would use EHC.