On January 1, 2016, Oregon became the first U.S. state to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control to women.
A law permitting pharmacists to prescribe birth-control patches and oral contraceptives to women went into effect January 1, 2016, in Oregon, making it the first U.S. state to give the power of birth-control prescription to pharmacists.
Under the new law, women age 18 or older can receive a prescription after filling out a questionnaire about their health history that passes assessment by a pharmacist.
Women under 18 are required to have a doctor’s prescription first, before they can receive birth-control prescriptions from a pharmacist, a limitation that will be lifted in 2020.
Although the new law is intended to improve women’s access to birth control, potentially reducing the number of unintended pregnancies in the state, some women’s reproductive health experts are concerned that pharmacist-prescribed birth control could undermine efforts aimed at ultimately making contraception available prescription-free.
Offsetting those concerns are the potentially high costs of over-the-counter birth control and the exceedingly long time it could take to gain approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell such products prescription-free. While federal officials debate the merits and drawbacks of prescription-free birth control, states have begun to step in. California is expected to pass a law similar to the one in Oregon in early 2016.
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