Emergency Contraception in National Essential Medicines Lists

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Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs) are an essential component of women’s reproductive health. They offer women an important second chance to prevent pregnancy when a regular method fails, no method was used, or sex was forced. Research over the past 30 years has shown that ECPs are safe and effective.

The most recent (April 2015) World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines List (EML) includes one form of ECP, containing levonorgestral (LNG) as an active ingredient. While other drugs can be used for EC, only the LNG form is listed by the WHO at this time. The WHO list includes two regimen options for LNG ECPs: two tablets of 0.75 milligrams, or one tablet of 1.5 milligrams (mg). Either regimen can be used; although the two-pill regiment is labeled for the pills to be taken 12 hours apart, the current recommendation is for both pills to be taken together as a single 1.5 mg dose.