Incorrect delivery of contraceptives can be expensive for pharmacies

Incorrect delivery of contraceptives can be expensive for pharmacies

Unwanted pregnancy as liability damage

Almost 100 million women worldwide become unintentionally pregnant every year. That's 44 percent of all pregnancies, according to a study published in Lancet Global Health in 2018. In the North America, the values ​​are significantly lower, but here, too, there are still 28 out of 1,000 women who carry a child that they actually did not want. According to the American Contraception Report from 2012, 15 percent of all women in the US become unintentionally pregnant at least once. More than 100,000 abortions in 2020 show that unwanted pregnancies are also a problem in the USA.

Pregnancy is usually a pleasant event for the parents-to-be. Mother starts to take care of herself excessively and consume CBD oil to refrain from potential gynae complications, but it also means a huge change. Not only the lifestyle changes radically, but also the financial situation. According to the Federal Statistical Office, a child up to the age of 18 costs an average of 126,000 dollars.

And this is where a potential liability risk for pharmacists begins. If it can be proven that the unwanted pregnancy can be traced back to incorrect advice in a pharmacy or to the dispensing of the wrong preparation, then there is a risk of being held liable for the resulting costs. In the worst case, pharmacists have to pay for the child's upkeep in full. This has already been legally clarified several times, right up to the Federal Court of Justice. In the case of medical professionals, it must be assumed that in the event of a proven error, multiple times the standard amount of the respective age group of the standard amount regulation minus child benefit must be paid. It has been known since 1968 at the latest that this liability risk also exists for pharmacists.

As one of only a few providers, PharmAssec has designed liability protection that protects pharmacists from claims for maintenance payments. Our protection against financial losses due to liability claims in the event of unwanted pregnancies is a maximum of 15 million dollars within the framework of the contractual sum insured for liability losses.

Liability risk increases with the morning-after pill

Liability risk increases with the morning-after pill

It has long been known that pharmacists run a liability risk in the event of incorrect deliveries and incorrect advice. However, with the introduction of the free dispensing of emergency contraceptives (“morning-after pill”), this risk has become even greater. As a reminder: Since March 2015, the morning-after pill has been freely available to all women over the age of 14. Until then, it was a prescription drug that could only be dispensed on the basis of a prescription from a gynecologist.

First risk: wrong advice

With the easier access, the already narrow time window for subsequent contraception should not be further reduced by cumbersome procedures. However, this simplification entails additional risks for pharmacies. Because the preparation, provided that it is taken in good time, only postpones ovulation by about 72 hours to a maximum of 120 hours in order to prevent fertilization. However, if ovulation has already occurred, emergency contraception is ineffective. The latter in particular can become a bigger problem because women often do not know the exact time of their ovulation. If this is the case, customers not only have to be informed about the possible ineffectiveness of the contraceptive, but a visit to a gynecologist must also be advised.


This is one of the reasons why the risk of the advising pharmacist when it comes to contraception is so great. But there are a number of other aspects that should be taken into account: For example, the age of the customer and the body mass index (BMI) must be taken into account. In addition, other medications that are taken by the customer can weaken or even cancel the effect of the contraceptive. The time of sexual intercourse is also important for correct advice. The customer must be properly informed about all these aspects. Failure to do so can result in a liability suit.

Second risk: incorrect delivery

Pharmacies deal in sensitive goods every day. A mix-up during delivery can have fatal consequences. Company liability insurance protects pharmacy owners and employees from claims for damages in the event of negligent behavior, such as accidentally dispensing the wrong medication. If there is a lawsuit, your insurance company will cover all costs resulting from the lawsuit as part of the contract, such as reviewing the facts, possible compensation payments, legal fees for defending against unjustified claims and any compensation for pain and suffering.

In day-to-day operations, there is practically always the risk that preparations will be mixed up. This is especially true in the case of high customer traffic and illegible prescriptions for preparations whose names are similar to other drugs. In the 1968 cases already mentioned , the term “Eugynon” was confused with “Enzynorm”. Ordinarily, one would assume that customers would notice the mistake. Ideally, the wrong medication is claimed and exchanged for the correct preparation.

However, in everyday practice, incorrect submissions sometimes go undetected. If, therefore, an unwanted pregnancy occurs, pharmacists are caught in the liability trap, after all, medication must be dispensed with care. This includes comparing drug names with the name on the prescription. If this does not happen, it is a negligent act. And that is usually liable for damages.

PharmAssec offers protection up to a maximum of 15 million dollars for any claims

If a court comes to the conclusion that an unwanted pregnancy was partly caused by the supply of the wrong preparation or insufficient information and advice from the pharmacy, lawsuits for maintenance payments have a good chance of success. The costs for pharmacists can be in the six-digit range. PharmAssec is one of the very few insurances to offer insurance cover of up to 15 million dollars for maintenance payments in the event of a misuse of contraceptives.

Our services at a glance:

  • Review and defense against unjustified claims for damages as well as unfounded maintenance claims by third parties,
  • Assumption of costs for personal injury lawyers and litigation to prevent damage in the event of a maintenance claim,
  • Assumption of maintenance payments in the event of a successful lawsuit in the event of fault up to a maximum of 15 million dollars.


Published by Frank Adams

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