5 Things to Know about Pharmacist-Prescribed Birth Control

Pharmacists in California are now authorized to prescribe birth control to women. California is the latest state to give pharmacists authority to prescribe birth control, behind Oregon and Washington. The California law went into effect on April 8.

Kathleen Hill-Besinque, associate professor of USC School of Pharmacy, highlights five key facts about the law, including what it means for pharmacists and for women seeking birth control.

1. ASSESSMENT: “Birth control will continue to require a prescription; it will not be available over the counter. Before prescribing birth control, pharmacists will ask women to complete a self-screening tool with their medical history, and provide counseling and information materials on using the medication. For contraceptives that pose a risk of hypertension, pharmacists will need to take a woman’s blood pressure. There is no age restriction.”

2. RANGE OF CONTRACEPTIVES: “The California state law authorizes pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptives including birth control pills, shots, skin patches and vaginal rings.”

3. FINDING A PHARMACY: “Pharmacies in California are not required to provide birth control prescriptions. There is nothing in the new law that mandates that pharmacies must provide birth control. During the initial few weeks, pharmacists and pharmacies will be gearing up for this new service, so women should call a pharmacy in advance to find out if it is able to provide this service.”

4. PAYMENT: “Under the Affordable Care Act, all prescription birth control will continue to be covered by insurance. Some pharmacies may charge an additional fee for the assessment services provided by the pharmacist.”

5. LARGER TREND: “California is the latest state in which pharmacists can prescribe birth control, behind Oregon. The move toward pharmacists prescribing birth control is part of a larger national trend toward team-based health care in which doctors and other medical professionals work together to oversee an individual’s health care.”