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Prescription-Free Birth Control Coming To California

Prescription-Free Birth Control Coming To California
Supporters say the new practice will increase access to contraceptives, while some fear fewer women will get screened for sexually transmitted diseases.

Soon California will be joining a growing number of states that allow birth control pills and patches to be purchased without a doctor's prescription. The being held by advocates requiring a prescription limits access to birth control. But there are those who have concerns that the new policy will make it less likely that women will get the full scope of reproductive health advice and screenings from the doctors. Joining me is Sarah McBain, president of the California pharmacists Association and a professor at UC San Diego. Welcome to the program. Think you to be here. Vice president of public affairs for the California family health Council, Amy welcome to the show. Think you symmetry having me. Soon women will be able to go in without a prescription but they would have to speak to a pharmacist to get contraception, is that right? Yes. What types of questions are forms will they have to fill out Lex before may depend on any specific pharmacy. But this is under a statewide portico that has been approved by the board of pharmacy as well as the medical board. The questions will ask the women to silkscreen, Billy out on their own, for certain cautions or reasons that birth control may not be safe for them. Asking for history of blood clots, certain types of cancers. What types of contraceptives will be available without prescription? Anything that is considered a self-administered contraceptive aired this would be the pills, those that have both types of hormones as well as progesterone only. There contraception drink and patch and potentially even the contraception injection. Two so to women or girls have to be a certain age to have at this to birth control? No. Nothing in the legislation or in the state protocol that limits the age. 's error, who do you think I'll what population, groups of women do you think will have access to birth control when this law goes into effect that who don't have axes to it now? I do not want to comment on any specific to Magrath groups because that remains to be seen. But I think we can't easily imagine populations which do not go see providers regularly now. It may actually go and talk to our pharmacist to get their birth control. One thing that this really brings into why is the advantage of having it available at pharmacies. There are statistics that show 90% of the US population lives within 5 miles of the pharmacy. By seeing of those available hours, pharmacies are open on evenings and weekends. Women who may find it difficult to schedule an appointment in a physician's office may be able to go talk to the local pharmacist. Now Amy Moy there are concerns about the new law about the totality of women's healthcare. Tell us about that. We believe that expanding birth control access by allowing women to get there hormonal birth control method directly from a pharmacist, is a positive step forward for women that might not otherwise be able to get the birth control that they want when they need it. As Sarah has mentioned, if a woman has difficulty getting into more comprehensive health care settings because of their work hours, or transportation or childcare issues, getting her birth control from pharmacist can be a great option. Getting their birth control is better than not getting get. So, I think that family planning is often a gateway to more comprehensive health care for women. And is often seen as primary care for women. So I think that we will see while this option will benefit some women who might otherwise not be able to access birth control from a more comments prevented health setting, that they will still want to go to their local health center or private doctor to get their birth control and other healthcare needs taken care about. This new policy is just another tool in the toolbox. There are some women Amy that say they only get to get their yearly reproductive checkup so they can get a new prescription for birth control. What kind of help problems may that opened up for women if indeed, they stop making those visits to the doctor? Clinical guidelines actually no longer call for an annual checkup or physical exam or to get or start birth control, contraception is among the safest medication available. A physical exam is not necessary as a general practice, unless otherwise indicated. So I think that, for women who are unable to get a more comprehensive healthcare visit, getting get from their pharmacist would be helpful, but that women will, I believe, continue to get their birth control or other health needs met. And then another thing that is important to know, we talked about earlier some of the methods that would be available under this new policy directly from the pharmacist. But it does not include the most effective methods, which are long acting or first book of deceptive's like IUDs are implants that must be placed by a trained healthcare provided in a more comprehensive health settings. Use of these methods are on the rise aired I think women will continue to increase in numbers access or choose an IUD or an implant as their method, now that health insurance has to cover the methods without a co-pay. Amy, you said something interesting earlier in the fact that some women use their gynecologist visits as their primary health care. I am wondering what type of challenge those that percent to the healthcare community, if indeed, some women don't make those visits as often as they used to, because they are instead going to the pharmacy to get their birth control? I think this policy, is one piece, of the very quickly, changing healthcare landscape and healthcare providers and Altman types of settings are adapting to new policies, or ships in coverage. This is no different. I think that if women do access their birth control directly from a pharmacist, if there is a reason to go to a more comprehensive health care provider, if there is a contraindication, that pharmacist will have to refer that woman to a local healthcare provider. So, I think that we will still see women getting their preventive healthcare needs met from a trusted healthcare provider that they have traditionally gone there healthcare from. And I think that it will be interesting to see how many local pharmacist to offer this option. There is a training component. And there would be a marketing component to make sure that women know that they can access these services from their local pharmacy. Again, this is not a silver billet, it is one tool within the toolbox and we have to make sure that access is available to birth control without barriers. With all types of help settings. What type of trainings are pharmacist getting to dispense birth control? They are getting training that focuses on this CDC medical eligibility criteria which is the same standard care that other providers use when they evaluate women and what method of birth controls are appropriate for them. The training includes some information on all types of contraceptive, including the IUD and implants, which was mentioned. Pharmacist will not be providing in the pharmacy, but if it seems that that is the most appropriate option for the women, they can provide preliminary educate and help the person contact doctor. The goal is to make sure all patients have the most appropriate therapy for their needs. Can they deny birth control if they have risks of side effects? Deny may not be the right word, but there is a responsibility for the pharmacist to say, this is risky for you, and not save, and perhaps you need to go talk to your physician. The one thing that I think would be a great thing to point out, this because of the improved access may actually help draw more women into healthcare. After they speak to the pharmacist and gives them the opportunity for counseling about there, -- conch contraception. The pharmacist can direct them. You need to get established with a primary care provider with other concerns as well. All pharmacies are participating in this new law? I do not expect that all pharmacies will. Of course it is very hard to predict as it is so early. The regulation is just starting to roll out around now. But, I think again, as was mentioned with marketing takes effect and as more women ask for it, more and more pharmacies will. And when does it go into effect? That is to be determined. The most recent estimate is approximately April of this year. Okay I have been speaking with Sarah McBain, and Amy Mori vice president of public affairs for the California famine health Council, thank you very much. Think you for having us.

Coming soon: prescription-free birth control.


This spring, a doctor's prescription will no longer be needed for women to buy birth control in California.

A law authorizing pharmacists to dispense hormonal contraceptives was passed in 2013. It's expected to be enacted this April.

California will become the third state to allow pharmacists to furnish birth control without a prescription. They’ll be able to dispense hormonal patches, pills and vaginal rings.

Women will have to answer a brief screening questionnaire before they get birth control. It’s designed to reveal any health concerns that might prompt a referral to a doctor.

There is no age requirement for women to buy birth control in California.


Supporters say the law will increase access to contraceptives and reduce unwanted pregnancies.

But some fear it could have unintended consequences. There’s concern that not requiring a doctor’s visit could mean fewer women will get screened for sexually transmitted diseases.