Have you ever heard about Myvlar or Mercilon Tablets? How about NorLevo or Firstrel? The former are the names of contraceptives (birth control pills) and the latter that of postcoital contraception (morning after pill). Until now, consumers can buy contraceptives in pharmacies without any prescription, but they should get a doctor’s prescription to buy postcoital contraceptives. However, the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) announced the new guideline on the 6th of June, this year. According to this new plan, before the end of 2012, the law will be switched so that contraceptives will become prescription drugs and emergency contraceptives will become over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. The fact that morning after pills doesn’t have certain side effects, according to KFDA, and that many pharmaceutical advanced countries put them on OTC drugs served as the main background reasons to adopt this plan. At the same time, the decision that long term use of the birth control pills has a possibility to affect the female hormone contributed to the new plan, too. On this matter, the Korean Pharmaceutical and Medical Association, churches, civic groups, and consumers display a conflict of opinions. Now let’s hear the Sookmyungians’ voices about this hot controversial topic.
Kim Yoonji / Department of English
The government has published a plan about a new policy that people will get a contraceptive pill through doctor’s prescription, but a morningafter pill will not require a prescription. I agree with the government’s policy which is related to contraceptives. A morning-after pill works within 72 hours. For reacting quickly in limited time, people have to buy the pill at a local pharmacy. Relatively, this pill has less side effects than a contraceptive pill. However, a contraceptive pill should be prescribed by a doctor. The reason is for women’s health. Firstly, women can suffer serious side effects from taking a contraceptive pill. Moreover, when we go to a doctor, the doctor checks women’s body and condition. It is useful to keep our health. At first, a contraceptive pill has huge side effects than a morning-after pill. Women are taking a contraceptive pill for three weeks each month, but a morning-after pill is used only one time after sexual intercourse. Taking pills for many times is not good to our body. The side effect from taking a contraceptive pill is mostly cardiovascular disease. Foreign government know the fact that contraceptive pills are dangerous. Therefore, many countries have prohibited women from taking pills without a doctor’s prescription. On the other hand, a morning-after pill has slight side effects like vomiting and change of menstrual cycle, and these do not last more than two days. Next, a doctor can prevent us from suffering other sickness from using a contraceptive pill. Many Korean women feel uncomfortable to talk with a doctor about their sexual behavior and menstrual cycle. However, a patient’s personal life is just information in the viewpoint of the doctor. Also, this information helps the doctor to know exactly a patient’s condition. A contraceptive pill is used to various situations by different people. Hence, it is necessary to provide a doctor to correct condition and sexual information. Therefore, we have to agree to the new policy about contraception. Women have a right to be protected from the dangers of the pills and to be provided correct treatment from the doctor.
Jang Sooyoung / Department of Food & Nutrition
A few months ago, the Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) announced that the category of postcoital contraception (the “morning after pill”) would be converted to an over-the-counter drug. At this time, the regulation hasn’t taken effect. However, there’s still a controversy over the sale of postcoital contraception without prescription. The original purpose of taking the pill is avoiding an unwanted pregnancy after having sex. For this reason, postcoital contraception was obtainable only by prescription, and gynecologists said it is potentially harmful to women’s bodies. Nevertheless, the Korean Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) argues it is safe to sell the pill without prescription. Moreover, they insist that this decision is based on reasonable reasons, though there are not enough scientific reasons to explain the confusing change. Besides, KFDA produced contrary evidence that many developed nations like the USA, UK, Canada, and France enforce this system. On the contrary, this decision is premature to decrease the abortion rate and women’s anxiety about birth control at this stage. Even though the sales of ‘morning after pill’ increased by thirty times in those developed nations after 6-8 years, the abortion rate was also increased. In Sweden, the abortion rate increased by seventeen percent after that decision, as did the venereal disease rate. In addition, the medical community of gynecologists proved the morning after pill can cause severe side effects. Those problems were caused by negligence for normal birth rate control with oral contraceptives (contrary to the concept of postcoital contraception). One crucial thing is that this society still has the conservative view of sex, and the systematization of sex education is far from enough. As a result, the decision of the KFDA is irresponsible in this current situation - the safety of oral contraceptive is already medically verified - and it can fall to dirty competition by egoism between doctors and pharmacists. Consequently, the bill about sale of postcoital contraception without prescription is untimely, so it should be reexamined with consideration about its safety and social influence. Furthermore, before the sale of those pills, the orientation process about sex has to be systematized for teenagers and young people socially.