New York pharmacists could soon be able to administer birth control, including the pill, without a doctor visit, according to the recently passed Birth Control Access Act. If signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul, doctors, nurse practitioners or even the state commissioner of health could issue a standing order for self-administered hormonal birth control, such as the pill, patches or vaginal rings. The legislation’s goal is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by increasing access to contraceptive drugs for women in New York State. Roughly 45% of pregnancies in the US are unintended, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
CVS Health wrote a letter in support of the bill, stating that pharmacists possess the clinical ability to provide the service and are uniquely positioned to expand equitable healthcare access to hormonal contraceptives. The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have also supported the idea of making oral contraceptives available over the counter with no age restrictions. Nearly three-quarters of about 500 respondents said they would be comfortable getting a contraceptive prescription from a pharmacist, according to a recent survey by the New York Birth Control Access Project.
In the US, approximately 88.9% of the population lives within five miles of a pharmacy, and pharmacists can play a huge role in increasing access to reproductive healthcare, especially in areas with healthcare shortages. The bill’s passage follows the FDA’s consideration to allow the sale of a contraceptive pill called Opill over the counter. With New York joining the 20 states that allow similar access to birth control, this legislation marks a significant step towards increasing reproductive healthcare access in the state.
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