A morning-after pill that can be taken up to five days after intercourse is being sold by a British online retailer, without medical checks and amid fears that teenage girls may buy the pills.
The pill, called EllaOne, is more effective than the regular morning-after pill, and works in a longer time frame.
The website says the drug can 'help stop an accident from becoming something more life-changing'.
EllaOne - which can be obtained free from GPs - is being sold online by HealthExpress for £49.95. Critics of the service claim its ease of availability will mean women can take the drug - whose side-effects include vomiting, nausea, migraines, tremors and kidney stones - without having the necessary medical checks. There are also fears that under-age girls could log onto the site and purchase the pills.
The retailer requires customers to fill in an online application form which is then screened by the company's medics. Payment is then taken by debit or credit card and the pill is delivered the following day. Women can put questions to the site's 'doctors' via a phone helpline, which operates only during business hours and is closed at night and all weekend.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: 'Over the internet you have no idea of the real age or medical history of the applicants, who can tell any stories they like.One of the concerns has to be in relation to younger girls. Drugs that might be appropriate for adults are not necessarily appropriate for those at an earlier stage in development. It is totally irresponsible.'
Philippa Taylor, of Christian charity Care, said: 'No one is looking out for the best interests of the girls. There are real health issues. If a girl is taking these strong hormonal tablets from a young age, there could be a huge impact on her health and welfare.'
But Alistair Rattray, of HealthExpress, said ellaOne is sold only after one of the site's doctors issues a prescription.
He told the Sunday Times: 'It is used on the basis of the patient providing accurate and truthful information in the same way as visiting any doctor. HealthExpress has been reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and our doctors are regulated by the General Medical Council.'
What do you think?
Should online sales of the morning after pill be banned altogether?
Would you buy drugs like the pill online without having medical checks first?