Objectives The two emergency contraceptive drugs (“morning-after pill”) ulipristal acetate and levonorgestrel are available without prescription in many European countries. In Albania, ulipristal acetate is not marketed yet and levonorgestrel has still prescription-only status. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and socioeconomic correlates of emergency contraceptive (EMC) use, collect sales figures, and gain information on the women’s way of purchasing EMCs in post-communist Albania. Methods For this cross-sectional study, self-administered questionnaires were made accessible to women in Albania in March 2015 by hard copy or online via social networks. Women were asked about lifetime use and last year’s use of EMCs, and if they purchased EMCs with or without a prescription. Additionally, pharmacies were contacted and asked about EMC sales figures. Results Of the 205 participating women, 80.5% knew about the availability and use of EMCs, and 15.1% reported EMC use during the previous 12 months. The lifetime prevalence of use was 46.8%. Although having prescription-only status in Albania, 96% of the women bought EMCs without a physician’s prescription. Knowledge was significantly lower among the lower educated women and among women residing in small cities. Use of EMCs was significantly higher in women with a weaker financial background and, compared with small cities, in those from large or mid-sized cities. The 54 participating pharmacies (3% of all Albanian pharmacies) reported selling 11 EMCs on average per month. The use of EMCs may be estimated at 0.22 defined daily doses per 1,000 inhabitants per day. Compared to January 2015, EMC sales increased by 17% in February 2016. Conclusions Compared to other European countries, the prevalence of EMC use seems to be higher in Albania. Use and knowledge of EMCs depend on socioeconomic characteristics. It is recommended to switch EMCs to non-prescription status in transitional Albania.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health