By Cara Murez
Health Day Reporter
TUESDAY, December 6, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Pharmacists can now prescribe hormonal birth control pills in 20 US states plus Washington, DC, making birth control easier for women, a new report says.
Another 10 states have legislation in the works, according to a study presented Monday at a meeting of the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists in Las Vegas.
Easy access to birth control has been a hot topic since the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling.
“Pharmacists are an untapped and essential resource for so many Americans, especially for people who live far from other health care providers or who otherwise have limited access,” said Tom Kraus, vice president of government relations at ASHP, in a society press release.
A national analysis showed that this is a growing trend.
“Pharmacists have taken on more responsibility in healthcare delivery in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the analysis’ lead author Soumya Jairam, a Pharm-D candidate at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ
“The scope of our practice is expanding, and it’s important to be aware of what the rules are in other states,” Jairam said in the release.
States and counties where pharmacists are allowed 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 last in May.
New York is one of the other 30 states where pharmacists do not have the authority to prescribe hormonal contraceptives.
A separate survey of 500 New York women to be presented at the conference found that nearly three-quarters of women would like to get contraception from a pharmacist. Many said they lived closer to a pharmacy than their doctor.
A majority of the women in the study said they believe pharmacists have the knowledge and skills to prescribe birth control. The main obstacles to contraception were long waiting times and difficulties in making an appointment at the doctor’s office, as well as the distance to the doctor.
“Access to contraception may become even more important as the Supreme Court decision struck down Roe vs. Wade,” said the women’s poll lead author Jennifer Fiscus, a Pharm D candidate at Binghamton University School of Pharmacy in Johnson City, NY
“This decision is causing family planning clinics to close in many areas, and prescribing birth control is a perfect opportunity for pharmacists to step in and play a role in healthcare,” Fiscus added in the press release. “This is especially true in emergencies where people run out of refills over the weekend or are unable to get to their provider for a few weeks or even several months.”
Findings presented at medical congresses are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on contraception.
SOURCE: American Society for Health-System Pharmacists, press release, December 5, 2022