Women will now be able to have the contraceptive pill prescribed and delivered to their door, but doctors are warning convenience could come with a cost.
Female-run startup Kin has launched an online service that allows women around Australia to connect with general practitioners who can prescribe and have the Pill dispensed straight to their homes.
But medical professionals are warning bypassing traditional doctor visits could risk patient health and have ‘disastrous’ consequences.
Kin founders Nicole, Davina and Amelia, said they were “stoked” to deliver the subscription pill service, which launched in early February.
“Now, you can get the contraceptive pill delivered to your door,” they wrote in a statement posted on social media.
“Kin lets you skip the in-person doctor’s appointment, without compromising quality healthcare. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“Life is full of loop-the-loops. But, access to your contraception should be straightforward. We hope this will be a game-changer for the women of Australia.”⠀⠀⠀⠀
Those wanting to sign up for a prescription will have to answer questions from a GP, just as they would in a face-to-face appointment.
President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Dr Harry Nespolon said he had “major concerns” about GPs prescribing medication without seeing the patients.
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What is #telehealth and is it legit? 🧐⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ First things first, YES – it’s totally legit and legal in Australia. The @kin.fertility doctor’s consult is 100% online and uses a text-based service to put you in touch with Kin GPs when it suits you.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ With online doctors and telehealth, you’re able to access the contact, care and monitoring that you need from anywhere in the country. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Online consultations and follow ups are included in your Kin membership and allow you to stay healthy and happy and get your medication on time.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ We care about your health, and so do our doctors, which is why we're using the internet to help you stay connected! ⠀
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“GPs are best placed to prescribe the Pill and renew prescriptions. They know their patient’s health history and can address any concerns they might have, what contraceptive is the best choice for them right now, for example,” Dr Nespolon said.
“If a patient doesn’t get the opportunity to discuss their health and all of their contraceptive options, they could end up with the wrong medication and the results could be disastrous for them.
“While improving access to contraceptives is essential for women’s health, so too is ensuring that they get the right option for them, and the care and advice from a registered GP.”
Contraception can currently be re-prescribed online, but the service is a first for Australians and will cost $55 annually, on top of the cost of the Pill.
Consumers Health Forum chief executive Leanne Wells said online prescriptions could potentially affect industry independence.
“Having the Pill prescribed and delivered to your door may suit women who are short of time and can afford the extra cost,” Ms Wells said.
“However the lack of a physical consultation and potential blurring of the roles of doctor and pharmacist can pose a risk to care and might tend to disrupt collaborative care between GPs and pharmacists.
“The basis on which doctors involved in digital prescribing give informed and independent advice is also not clear, given that Medicare benefits are not payable where the doctor has not physically seen the patient.”
Services like Instant Scripts have already been renewing contraception prescriptions, but clinical director Dr Asher Freilich told The New Daily they wouldn’t be adopting a prescription service.
“We would prefer the patient get examined once and initiated on a pill,” Dr Freilich said.
“Once you start on a pill we offer the convenience of continued supply if you want to reuse it. I’m not a supporter of initiating it.
“There are so many pills and many of them do have side effects. Some of them have different estrogen levels. Some of them are just not appropriate for a person.”
He said other concerns over the safety of online services were unfounded.
“We don’t offer drugs of dependence or Schedule 8 medication (drugs of addiction),” he said.
“It’s really about improving accessibility without compromising safety.”