Birth Control Will Be Available Without a Prescription in Oregon and California

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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This week the governor of Oregon signed a bill that will allow women 18 and older to receive birth control at their local pharmacy without needing prescription from a doctor.

Effective January 1, 2016, Oregon pharmacists will be able to prescribe and dispense oral (pills) and topical (patches) birth control to patients 18 years of age and older.

Oregon, along with California, is among the first states to pass such a bill, and they may pave the way for easier access to pregnancy preventing contraceptives across the country. California is also finalizing regulations on a similar law passed in 2013.

What about patients younger than 18?

The bill will also allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense birth control to those younger than 18 if they have a previous prescription from a doctor for a contraceptive.

What will the process be to receive birth control from your pharmacist?

In order to receive birth control over-the-counter, interested women will need to fill out a questionnaire designed to screen for potential risks. This questionnaire will allow the prescribing pharmacist to select the appropriate product.

Are there any other restrictions or documentation required?

The pharmacist will be required to notify the patient’s primary prescriber.

The pharmacist may also only prescribe the birth control for three years unless they receive proof that the patient has seen their doctor since the medication was first prescribed.

What about the potential for adverse effects such as a blood clots from oral contraceptives?

The Oregon bill sponsors believe the risks of adverse effects such as blood clots are outweighed by the benefits, primarily pregnancy prevention. Pregnancy prevention is important because unplanned pregnancies, themselves, can lead to health risks.

What makes pharmacists in Oregon different from other states?

The governor of Oregon signed into law HB 2028, recognizing pharmacists as health care providers. This was effective immediately upon its passage on June 18, 2015.

Oregon’s recognition of pharmacists as health care providers is an acknowledgement that is not currently a standard in all states.

Why is HB 2028 important? Recognition of pharmacists health care providers is the first of many steps to help them receive more acknowledgement and respect for their extensive and expanding role in today’s health care.

How will the California regulations be different?

California will not have the same age requirement as Oregon. Birth control will be available over-the-counter with the access whether you are over 18 or not. The new rules in California are also expected to take effect a little bit sooner, as early as October 1, 2015.

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