Women can now purchase the contraceptive pill using the online medical service, DrThom without having to go to a doctor.
The service will cost £29.99 for a three month supply and will only be made available to women who have taken the pill before.
Patients will need to register on the DrThom website, and then answer an online questionnaire using DrThom’s secure online patient management system.
The questionnaire will ask about the patient’s general health and previous use of the pill and based upon the responses and subsequent dialogue, doctors will decide if it is appropriate to prescribe a three month course of the pill.
The medicine is sent out as special delivery and needs to be signed for at the delivery address. Payment has to be made using a debit or credit card in the patient’s own name in order to ensure security.
Dr Thomas Van Every, DrThom’s medical director, said: "The aim of our new contraceptive service is to make it easier and more convenient for women throughout the UK to get access to the pill.
“Our specialist service is ideal for a woman living a long way from her GP or a woman who is too busy because of work or childcare to take the time to visit her GP.”
If the doctor receiving the request assesses that treatment is unsuitable or the patient needs to be examined, DrThom say they will not charge the patient, but encourage them to visit their GP.
The website will provide the patient with a list of all NHS GUM clinics where family planning services are available.
A spokesperson told E-Health Insider that all prescriptions of the pill will follow strict General Medical Council remote prescribing guidelines.
He said: “The GMC provides additional guidelines as to what additional steps a doctor needs to take when managing a patient remotely. As per GMC guidelines on remote prescribing, all of our doctors volunteer their name and GMC number whenever they communicate with or prescribe for the patient.
“Before deciding whether to prescribe for a patient, our doctors have to have access to the same information that they would need to know if the patient were sitting in front of them. As with a face to face consultation, our doctors rely upon what the patient is telling them about their previous use of the pill and their general medical condition.”
The service is intended to be for women aged 18 and over, but the spokesperson admitted it relied on honesty from patients in ensuring under-age girls do not go online to buy the pill.
“We are relying on patients accurately and honestly disclosing their medical history and other details, including their age,” he said.
Dr Van Every added: “We see the DrThom service as part of an ongoing trend – a trend consistent with UK government policy – to help women access contraceptive services as close to their home as possible."
A spokesperson foe the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, backed the plans and said young girls buying the drugs online would be a waste of their money.
“DrThom’s service is trustworthy, and they should be applauded for piloting this innovative approach. What have people got to gain by trying to hoodwink a doctor via this system, when they can already get the same drugs at no charge through the NHS?," she told EHI.
DrThom was launched last year as a service for patients with erectile dysfunction, and is staffed by clinicians from DrThom and the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. DrThom has ten doctors who are trained to manage patients online.