Product Distribution Issues

Dedicated EC Products
Map of the registration status of dedicated progestin-only ECPs worldwide
Access to EC in the private, public, and NGO sectors
Donor and government procurement of EC

Dedicated EC Products

Women’s access to EC is significantly influenced by the availability of EC products in their setting. While off-label use of conventional oral contraceptives for EC (i.e the Yuzpe regimen) represents an important option to women who otherwise would not have access to EC, a dedicated EC product – one that is packaged and labeled specifically for EC use – should be widely available through a range of outlets (clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, etc).

ICEC has worked with pharmaceutical companies and other partners to help increase access to EC. (Early steps towards developing and registering a dedicated EC product are described in our History.) Gedeon Richter was the first company to manufacture a dedicated EC product, followed by HRA Pharma; now many manufacturers are providing EC to markets around the world. More than 140 countries have registered at least one dedicated EC product through their drug regulatory processes. Registered EC products are listed in our country directory.

However, other barriers may still need to be addressed. Accessibility to EC varies across the private, public, and NGO sectors. Donor procurement of EC also varies considerably. Finally, many countries have yet to register the range of EC products available and a few still do not have any dedicated EC products. This map shows where EC is registered and whether it is available over the counter.

Emergency Contraceptive Pills:

Map of the registration status of dedicated progestin-only ECPs worldwide

world map registration

red square Registered – Available Over the Counter
blue square Registered
orange square Registered – Available Directly from Pharmacies
purple square No Dedicated Product Registration

Access to EC in the private, public, and NGO sectors

The private, commercial sector is providing EC in virtually all countries where EC is available. In particular, private pharmacies, drug stores, and other outlets are providing the majority of EC that women access. Because so many women access ECPs in these settings, strengthening services in these outlets, particularly pharmacies, is critical.

The public sector also contributes to EC provision, but in a number of countries, the public sector does not offer EC. Public sector support is particularly critical in ensuring integration of EC education along with other contraceptive methods, and offering EC as a part of post-rape care.

The NGO sector also plays a vital role in selling or otherwise promoting of EC products, particularly via social marketing programs to publicize and market EC. These programs may provide support to commercial vendors through advocacy and public awareness work; alternatively, NGOs can also directly register, import, and distribute EC products. Several social marketing programs have been very successful in EC provision, making it a promising avenue for further expansion. Successful programs have been implemented, for example, by DKT International, Marie Stopes International, Population Services International, ProSalud Interamericana, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

ICEC members have used a number of social marketing strategies to raise awareness of EC, including establishing telephone hotlines and websites, distributing promotional materials, and developing posters and other displays for family planning clinics and pharmacies. However, a large proportion of social marketing family planning programs do not offer an EC product. Read our briefing paper on social marketing and EC.

Donor and government procurement of EC

Donors and governments can purchase EC directly by negotiating with manufacturers or through UNFPA’s AccessRH catalog, which lists two brands of quality-assured ECPs. UNFPA and other UN donors have procured EC for many years, and USAID initiated its procurement in 2011.

Several manufacturers have indicated that they will provide EC to public sector programs at a favorable price.

For more information about Product Distribution Issues:

  • The RHInterchange database, maintained by the Reproductive Health Supply Coalition lists EC purchases by governments and donors.
  • The Contraceptive Security Index (CSI) data collected by John Snow, Inc. (JSI) lists developing countries that provide EC through their public and private sectors.