Public Release: 

Emergency contraception issues featured during web-based conference

American College of Preventive Medicine

Washington, D.C. -During a web-based conference today, two of the nation's leading experts on reproductive health and family planning presented the latest information on providing emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) to adolescents. The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) hosted the conference at Medscape from WebMD. A free archive of the session will soon be available online at www.medscape.com.

Dr. Melanie A. Gold of the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Donald F. Downing of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Washington, delivered presentations and answered audience questions. Dr. George Lundberg, Editor of Medscape General Medicine, moderated the session. The conference provided critical information for practicing physicians, public health officials, and other front-line health providers who provide primary care, reproductive health, and family planning services to adolescents or are concerned with the health and social implications of providing ECPs to adolescents.

The conference featured an overview of the newest indications, contraindications, mechanisms of action, efficacy, and safety of ECPs. Participants also learned the advantages and disadvantages, as related to adolescent health, of pharmacist-dispensed and over-the-counter ECPs versus provision of ECPs by other health care providers with prescriptive authority. Additionally, the speakers addressed the potential impact of changes in ECP availability for adolescents' access to reproductive health care. The conference was particularly timely because scientific advisors to the Food and Drug Administration recently recommended that the FDA approve an ECP for over-the-counter use.

Adolescent girls currently face prohibitive barriers to obtaining ECPs within the narrow window of effectiveness. Many clinicians require an office visit before prescribing ECPs to their patients. Some adolescents do not have a regular health care provider and do not know how to access ECPs in a confidential manner. Doctors' offices and clinics are often closed at night and on weekends when unprotected sex is most likely to occur.

"Health care professionals are the key source of information about pregnancy prevention approaches for sexually active adolescents," according to ACPM President Robert Harmon, MD. "Emergency contraception can be an important option, but it's one that even many health care providers know relatively little about. The conference should enhance the ability of professionals to meet the needs of their adolescent patients for information about avoiding the crisis of unintended pregnancy."

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To view an archive of the web-based conference go to www.medscape.com, register and log in as a free Medscape user, and search the continuing medical education (CME) Public Health and Prevention section.

The American College of Preventive Medicine is the national professional society for physicians whose expertise and interest lie in disease prevention and health promotion (www.acpm.org). ACPM's more than 2,000 members are engaged in preventive medicine practice, teaching and research. Medscape from WebMD is the leading provider of online information and educational services for physicians and health care professionals (www.medscape.com).

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