Will Pharmacists Give You Birth Control Without a Prescription? The Survey Says…

For those who may have been following this blog since its inception, you may recall that I was conducting a research project with Dr. Rafie last year. We conducted a survey study to gauge pharmacists’ attitudes towards a recent California law that will allow pharmacists to provide hormonal birth control directly to women without a prescription.

Kevin Vu ACCP MeetingI recently had the opportunity to present my findings at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Global Conference on Clinical Pharmacy. Held in San Francisco, this conference was a gathering of pharmacists from around the world and provided a platform for those in the field to network, share and exchange ideas, as well as learn the latest developments in the pharmacy world.

So what were some of the findings I presented from our survey of community pharmacists in California?

  1. Only half of the pharmacists were familiar with the new law that allows direct pharmacy access to birth control.
  2. Most pharmacists (about 70%) said they were very likely or somewhat likely to participate in this new service. It’s promising to see all the excitement and interest within the pharmacy community around this new authority! We are hopeful that this will manifest as lots of pharmacists actually providing the service when it becomes available. We don’t want women to have to call or visit multiple pharmacies before they find a pharmacist who can help them.
  3. The main reasons for why pharmacists said they wanted to participate in this service was that patients would benefit from improved access and that this service would foster increased use of birth control. This increased use and consistent use could eventually translate to fewer unplanned pregnancies, which currently stands at half (51%) of all pregnancies that occur in the U.S. every year.
  4. Nearly all (98%) of pharmacists feel comfortable intervening if they notice a patient had a drug interaction with their birth control. This is encouraging given that pharmacists are often seen as the final safety check when it comes to medications, ensuring that patients are getting medications that are safe and effective.

As the service is on the brink of being rolled out, I’m glad to say that some California pharmacists have already begun participating in training programs specifically aimed to help prepare them for participation in this service. With time, the hope is that patients and pharmacists across the country will recognize the value of direct access to birth control, and that other states will follow and adopt a similar authority.


KevinVuPharmDCandidate

About the Author: Kevin Vu is a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences.

What California Teens Need to Know About Pharmacy Access to Birth Control

ProviderGuess what California! Having safe sex is about to get a whole lot easier for you in the next few months! We think that increasing access to highly effective forms of birth control is the best way to help prevent unplanned pregnancies and the lawmakers in California agree! A law was passed that is getting ready to rock how you get your birth control in a big way. Starting towards the end of 2015, your local pharmacist can start providing you with more effective forms of birth control in the pharmacy (the pill, the patch, the ring, and the shot)!

This means that you would be able to get your birth control without worrying about making a doctor’s appointment or clinic visit. (Side note: Getting checked out by a doctor regularly is really important! ESPECIALLY, if you are sexually active. It just shouldn’t prevent you from getting effective birth control!) Now if you need birth control you are going to have choices – the doctor’s office, your local family planning clinic, or your local pharmacy!

Who can get birth control at the pharmacy?

First of all, all you ladies out there can use it! Women of all ages — including teens — will be able to use this service. You also don’t need to have insurance or an ID card to get birth control. In California, minors can consent to medical care for the prevention or treatment of pregnancy without parental permission. In fact, legally the pharmacist cannot disclose any information to your parents without your written permission. Of course we know that your parents had sex at least once (hey, you’re here right?) so they probably know a thing or two about sex and birth control. So if you feel comfortable you can always chat with them about any questions you might have and they are welcome to come along to the pharmacy. We know teens like their privacy too; so just know if you don’t want to tell them, we won’t either!

How does pharmacy access to birth control work?

So here’s how it works. It is kind of like when you go get a flu shot from the pharmacist (if you don’t do that you totally should!). You fill out a health screening questionnaire and get your blood pressure taken to make sure that it is safe for the pharmacist to give you birth control and that’s it! The pharmacist will review your questionnaire and talk you about which methods of birth control would be safe for you to use. Then you can discuss how each method works and pick which you like best. The pharmacist will then provide you with birth control supplies just like you would get with a doctor’s prescription and you are good to go.

Keep in mind that not all pharmacies will be providing this service right away. It’s always a good idea to give the pharmacy a quick call to find out if they do before you go in.

How much will this cost me?

There will probably be a small service fee for the screening. This is different than the cost of the medication. If you do have insurance, you will most likely be able to get your prescription filled with no copay. (Thanks Obama!) If you are under your parents insurance, the insurance company might send your parents documents about what you got from the pharmacy. If this is something that you want to keep private, consider filling out a “confidential communication request” for your insurance company. See www.myhealthmyinfo.org for more information and a copy of the form.

What if I don’t live in California?

Basically, this new law is very exciting in the word of birth control. Hopefully once the other states see how much it has helped in California they will follow suit! So if you don’t live in California keep your eyes out changes to come!

What are some trusted sources for more info about birth control methods?

If this gets you excited about birth control, check out these helpful links to help you learn about different methods! These are really cool resources for teens and they break down all the pros and cons of each method. Bedsider includes videos from guys and girls talking about the experiences they’ve had with each method. On their website you can also sign up for text reminders for clinic appointments or to remind you to take your birth control pills, patch, ring, or shot. Planned Parenthood has an interactive quiz to let you know which methods might work best for you. They’ve even got info just for teens.

How can I get my questions answered?

Check out our new resource page just for teens!  If you have any other questions about your sexual health or anything pharmacy related you can submit your question anonymously. Your question will be answered by Dr. Sally Rafie, PharmD, who is a pharmacist and is very passionate about sexual health and how pharmacists can help!


Courtney HeadshotAbout the Author: Courtney Miller just finished her first year of pharmacy school at the University of California San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is from the central valley which has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in California so this topic is very close to her heart!