HealthDay News — Pharmacists can now prescribe hormonal contraceptives in 20 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C., giving women easier access to birth control, a new report says. Another 10 states have legislation in the works, according to research presented Monday at a meeting of the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists in Las Vegas.
“Pharmacists have taken on more responsibility in providing health care the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the lead author of the analysis, Soumya Jairam, a Pharm.D. candidate at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. “The scope of our practice is expanding, and it’s important to be aware of what the rules look like in other states.”
States and districts that allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia, according to the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations. California was the first, in 2013. South Carolina became the latest in May. New York is one of the other 30 states that do not give pharmacists prescribing authority for hormonal contraceptives.
A separate survey of 500 New York women that is being presented at the conference revealed that nearly three-quarters of women would be comfortable getting their contraceptive prescription from a pharmacist. Many said they live closer to a pharmacy than to their health care provider. A majority of women in the study said they believe pharmacists have the knowledge and skills to prescribe birth control. Primary barriers to getting birth control were long wait times and difficulty making appointments at their doctor’s office, as well as distance from their health care provider.
“Access to contraceptives could be even more important with the Supreme Court decision striking down Roe vs. Wade,” said the lead author of the women’s survey, Jennifer Fiscus, Pharm.D. candidate at the Binghamton University School of Pharmacy in Johnson City, New York. “That decision is causing family planning clinics to close down in many areas, and birth control prescribing stands out as a perfect opportunity for pharmacists to be able to step in and take on a health care role. This is especially true in emergencies where people are running out of refills on the weekends or can’t get into their provider for a few weeks or even several months.”