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How Community Pharmacists are Making Birth Control More Accessible

Making Birth Control More Accessible

Birth Control in Colorado

In 2017, Colorado became the third state to allow community pharmacists to prescribe birth control for patients without visiting their provider. Over 20 states have already passed or are working on similar legislature. Visiting a participating local pharmacy is a great way to receive accessible family planning information and often begin same-day contraceptive treatment at low or no cost for most patients. The visit takes 5-20 minutes and is more in-depth and personalized compared to buying over-the-counter contraceptive products like condoms or Plan B.

Pharmacist Prescribing of Hormonal Contraception

Visit Policies – Birth Control Pharmacist for state-by-state information.

How to Get Birth Control Through a Pharmacy

Interested patients in Colorado who are at least 18 years old can fill out a self-screening risk assessment questionnaire here to find out if hormonal contraceptives are right for them. After filling out the questionnaire, a few steps will be taken:

  1. A pharmacist will go over the questionnaire with the patient, measure their blood pressure, and review their health history and current medications for risk factors.
  2. The pharmacist and patient will then work together to select a contraceptive option that fits the patient’s needs and preferences.

Can Pharmacists Prescribe Birth Control?

Pharmacists in Colorado can write a prescription for up to 12 months of oral contraceptives, contraceptive patches, vaginal rings, or the monthly Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DPMA) injection. After 12 months, if the patient has not seen their primary care provider (PCP) to renew their treatment, they can complete the risk assessment questionnaire and consultation with their pharmacist again. The pharmacist can provide up to 3 years of contraceptive prescribing services before the patient must see their PCP. This is also a way for patients who are currently taking birth control to continue their treatment before making a clinic appointment.

Allowing pharmacists to continue their patients’ current therapy leading up to their next PCP visit decreases the chance of unplanned pregnancies from missed doses while waiting for refill approvals. Some states without a statewide protocol will allow standing orders between a physician and pharmacy to prescribe a limited quantity of contraceptives to prevent missed doses.

Pharmacist Screening Process​

Pharmacist Screening Process

During the screening process, the pharmacist may refer the patient to their provider if they are experiencing symptoms of pregnancy, take medications or supplements that are contraindicated with hormonal contraceptives, or have health conditions where the risks outweigh the benefits of beginning contraceptive therapy. Patients who are interested in long-acting reversible contraceptives like the Intrauterine device (IUD) or the implant will also be referred to their provider. Pharmacists who provide contraceptive prescribing services must have completed an Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accredited training program and refer to the most recent United States Medical Eligibility Criteria (USMEC) guidelines for hormonal contraceptive use.

Community Pharmacies Increase Birth Control Accessibility

Pharmacists are the most accessible health care professional for most people. With 9 out of 10 Americans living within 5 miles of a community pharmacy, birth control access increases significantly by passing pharmacist prescribing laws. At Clearspring Pharmacy in Denver, CO, a consultation appointment for oral contraceptive therapy can be easily scheduled online. Prescribing regulations for hormonal contraceptives will vary by state. Visit your State Board of Pharmacy website to find local regulations and community pharmacies near you that provide these services.

Increase Birth Control Accessibility​

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