ACT Pharmacy UTI and Oral Contraceptive Pill Trial

There are 15 ACT pharmacies participating in the NSW Health Pharmacy Trial for urinary tract infections (UTIs) and the oral contraceptive pill (the pill).

The trial allows trained pharmacists to provide important medications and treatments for uncomplicated UTIs in eligible women and people with a uterus aged 18 to 65 years (inclusive). 

Pharmacists can also resupply selected oral contraceptive pills to eligible women and people with a uterus aged 18 to 35 years (inclusive).

The University of Newcastle is leading the trial in association with the University of Technology Sydney, Macquarie University, University of New England, Charles Sturt University, The George Institute for Global Health and the Hunter Medical Research Institute.

Participating pharmacies

Pharmacist treatment of UTIs

Who is eligible?

You are eligible for UTI treatment at a participating pharmacy if you are:

  • female or a person with a uterus
  • aged between 18 to 65 years (inclusive)
  • displaying symptoms consistent with an uncomplicated UTI, which may include:
    • burning or stinging (hurting) when you urinate, or a
    • frequent or urgent need to urinate.

What is the difference between an uncomplicated and a complicated UTI?

A UTI is usually an uncomplicated UTI when you:

  • are otherwise healthy
  • are not pregnant
  • have no abnormalities or obstructions in your urinary tract
  • have an infection in the lower section of their urinary tract (bladder and urethra) indicated by symptoms including:
    • burning or stinging (hurts) when you urinate
    • frequent or urgent need to urinate.

You are more likely to be at risk of a complicated UTI if you:

  • are male
  • have had a UTI more than once, for example, if you have had two or more UTIs within 6 months or three or more UTIs within 12 months
  • have received treatment for a UTI in the past 2 weeks and your symptoms have returned
  • are pregnant or have recently given birth
  • are immunocompromised
  • have diabetes, renal (kidney) disease or impaired renal (kidney) function
  • have a urinary tract abnormality, have had previous surgery or stents on the urinary tract or a history of obstruction
  • have a catheter, or have recently had a catheter (last 48 hours)
  • have an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • are displaying symptoms of a more serious infection or an infection that has moved into the upper urinary tract. These symptoms may include:
    • a fever or chills
    • rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
    • rapid heart rate
    • chest pain
    • headaches, nausea or vomiting
    • confusion.

As part of this trial, pharmacists will provide advice and treatment for uncomplicated UTIs. If you are displaying any symptoms of a serious infection, your pharmacist will refer you to your doctor (GP) or an Emergency Department.

What does the pharmacy consultation involve?

At your consultation with the pharmacist, you will be provided with an information sheet and asked some screening questions. This is to make sure you receive the right treatment and care.

You should call the pharmacy before you go to check opening hours and to ask if you need to book a consultation.

There will be a fee for both the consultation and antibiotics if required.

You may be referred to your doctor (GP) or the Emergency Department if you need additional care or urgent treatment.

Where can I access treatment for a UTI?

In Canberra you can access treatment for UTIs from your general practitioner (GP), the ACT Government Walk-in Centres and participating pharmacies. The Emergency Department is also available if you require urgent care.

More Information

Please refer to the NSW Health website.

Pharmacist resupply of the oral contraceptive pill

Who is eligible?

You are eligible to receive a resupply of your oral contraceptive pill at a participating pharmacy if you are:

  • a woman or a person with a uterus
  • aged between 18 to 35 years (inclusive)
  • taking the pill for contraception purposes only
  • prescribed a low-risk oral contraceptive pill in the last two years by a doctor (GP) or nurse practitioner. If this prescription has expired but was issued in the last two years you are still eligible.

What is an oral contraceptive pill (the pill)?

The oral contraceptive pill, often called 'the pill', prevents pregnancy. You take this as a tablet.

Which contraceptive pills can a pharmacist resupply as part of the trial?

A participating pharmacist can resupply some Combined Oral Contraceptive pills (COC) and Progestogen-Only Pills (POP or the mini-pill).

A COC is made up of two hormones, an estrogen and a progestogen. POPs or mini-pills contain only progestogen.

Participating pharmacists can only resupply pills containing these types of estrogen and progestogen:

  • ethinyloestradiol (40μg or less)
  • levonorgestrel
  • norethisterone
  • drospirenone (single ingredient preparations only)

Many brands of the pill are available. and all have different types and doses of these hormones. Your pharmacist will not be able to change the type of pill you are taking. If there is more than one brand available for the type of pill you are taking, discuss which brand you prefer with your pharmacist.

What is a low-risk oral contraceptive pill?

Low-risk pills contain only small amounts of the hormone estrogen, or only contain progestogen.

The pill is safe for most women, however estrogen has been linked to a very small risk of blood clots and stroke.

Can the pharmacist supply me with a different pill to the one I currently take?

No, the pharmacist must supply the same pill that you were prescribed by your doctor or nurse practitioner.

How often should I talk to my doctor about my pill?

It is recommended that you discuss your pill with your doctor regularly.

You should speak to your doctor earlier if you:

  • are worried about any side effects
  • have any new medical conditions that you have not discussed with your doctor
  • start taking new medicines at the same time
  • have stopped taking the pill for one month or more, but will be starting to take the pill again
  • think you might be pregnant.

I use the pill to treat a medical condition, why can't I get my next supply of it at the pharmacy?

Pharmacists can only provide a resupply of your pill if you use it mostly to prevent unplanned pregnancy (contraception).

You will need to speak to your doctor to get a prescription for the resupply of your pill if you are taking it for other reasons, including for reduction of acne (pimples), endometriosis, hormonal migraines or to reduce unwanted hair growth. This is to make sure these other medical conditions are being appropriately monitored by your GP or nurse practitioner.

What are the risks of taking the pill?

The pill is safe for most women, however there is a very small risk of:

  • blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
  • heart attack and stroke in women (this is increased if you smoke, have diabetes or high blood pressure).

It is important that you speak to your doctor about the risks of taking the pill based on your age, medical history, family medical history and lifestyle.

Unplanned pregnancy can still occur with the pill.

The pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Other longer acting forms of contraception can be very reliable and, in some users, more likely to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Talk to the pharmacist, your GP or nurse practitioner about these options.

How many months supply of the pill can the pharmacist give me?

Pharmacists can give you one packet of your oral contraceptive pill each visit. Some types of the pill include more than one month’s supply of the pill in each packet. The pharmacist can continue to provide you with top-ups of your pill for 12 months beyond your original prescription if you meet eligibility criteria as part of the NSW Pharmacy Trial.

Do I need to show the pharmacist my original script for the pill?

No, but you should bring in a box to show what you have been taking if you can.

If your script has expired, you may not be eligible, as a condition of supply is that you have not taken a break from the pill in the time since you saw your prescribing doctor or nurse practitioner.

I am older than 35, why can't I get a resupply of the pill?

For some people the potential health risks of taking the pill may outweigh the benefits.

For safety, if you are over 35 years of age it is best to speak to your doctor regularly to check for cardiovascular and other health risks.

Your doctor will provide you with a new prescription if the pill is right for you.

I am not 18 yet, why can't I get a resupply of the pill?

If you are younger than 18 years of age, it is important that you check in with your doctor regularly.

Your doctor will guide you on the best contraceptive method for you. If the doctor recommends the pill, they will provide you with a prescription that you can take to the pharmacy.

Where can I get additional information about the pill?

ACT Health recommends that you talk to your doctor about which pill is right for you.

Read these Family Planning Australia fact sheets for more information about the:

What if I can't get my next supply of the pill at the pharmacist without a new script from my doctor?

If you are not eligible to get a resupply of the pill, the pharmacist will recommend that you visit your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Your doctor or nurse practitioner can discuss what type of contraception is right for you. If they recommend the pill, they will provide you a new prescription.

Talk to your pharmacist if you are in this situation for guidance.

What will the pharmacist ask me during a consult for a resupply of the pill?

The pharmacist will ask you:

  • your name and date of birth
  • about your pill and your reason for taking the pill
  • when you last spoke to your doctor about the pill
  • if you have experienced any side-effects from the pill
  • if you have any medical conditions
  • if you take any other medicines (prescription or non-prescription)
  • about your lifestyle (for example, they will ask if you smoke).

The pharmacist will also take your blood pressure and record your height and weight.

The pharmacist is checking that you are eligible to get your next supply of the pill at the pharmacy and that it is safe for you.

Will my doctor be notified that I have got an extra 12-month supply of the pill?

Yes, your pharmacist will notify your doctor directly or they will give you a letter to take to your doctor next time you visit.

Are pharmacists already able to provide the pill without a new script?

Pharmacists are already able to dispense a four-month emergency supply of an oral contraceptive pill as well as dispense emergency contraception.

As part of the NSW Pharmacy Trial, pharmacists will be able to continue a script issued by a doctor or nurse practitioner for up to 12 months for low-risk oral contraceptive pills.

If you are more likely to experience side-effects or serious health conditions, the pharmacist will recommend that you speak to your doctor or nurse practitioner.

Page last updated on: 27 Feb 2024