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'Korea needs to designate birth control pills as over-the-counter drugs'
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.10.22 19:43
  • Updated 2019.10.22 19:43
  • comments 0

A Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service report has shown that hospitals have prescribed more than 970,000 birth control pills over the past five years. Notably, one out of 10 prescriptions was given to a minor under 19.

Rep. In Jae-geun

According to the agency's report, hospitals prescribed 978,442 birth control pills from 2014 to 2018. By year, there were 171,921 prescriptions in 2014, 161,277 in 2015, 164,143 in 2016, 179,672 in 2017, and 203,316 in 2018, showing a gradual increase since 2015.

The agency also reported that there were 98,113 prescriptions in the first half of this year.

By age, patients in their 20s ranked first with 505,152 (51.6 percent), followed by 30s with 262,198 cases (26.8 percent), 40s with 113,698 cases (11.6 percent). Also, the number of prescriptions for minors under the age of 19 was 91,209 cases (9.3 percent).

By region, Seoul had the highest number of cases with 252,363, followed by Gyeonggi Province’s 220,082 cases, Busan’s 88,384, Daegu’s 58,688, South Gyeongsang Province’s 55,991, Incheon’s 48,799, and Daejeon’s 48,465.

More than 8,000 cases of birth control pills were prescribed for men. According to the report, a total of 8,506 men received a prescription for birth control pills between 2014 and the first half of 2019.

The total breaks down into 2,155 cases in 2014, 1,706 in 2015, 1,514 in 2016, 1,293 in 2017, 1,171 in 2018, and 667 in the first half of 2019.

The Korean law, however, calls for punishing both the doctor who prescribes the birth control pill to a man and the man that received the birth control pill to give to a woman.

"After the Constitutional Court ruled abortion ban unconstitutional, there has been a growing demand to reclassify birth control pills, which is now an ethical drug that needs prescription, as an over-the-counter drug," said Rep. In Jae-geun of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea "However, it will likely take much time and efforts to reach a social consensus for such institutional improvement."


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