California pharmacists soon able to prescribe birth control


Under a new law approved two years ago, some pharmacists in California will soon be able to prescribe birth control.

Under a new law approved two years ago, some pharmacists in California will soon be able to prescribe birth control.

Supporters of the law believe it will save women time and money by eliminating doctor visits. “The traditional method just doesn’t hold up very well. It requires women to take time off work or school in order to make an appointment that might not be easy to get,” Don Downing, a University of Washington School of Pharmacy professor, told the Orange County Register. “Many women don’t necessarily have a primary care provider. It will be great news for a lot of people who are sexually active, but who don’t know where to turn.”

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The new law also allows California pharmacists to prescribe prescription-strength inhalers, gums and lozenges for nicotine addiction, medication for travel abroad, including vaccinations, and antibiotics.

“Pharmacists are the experts on medications. This should be a really good thing for everybody,” said Joyia Emard, a spokeswoman with the California Board of Pharmacy (CBOP).

The law stipulates that pharmacists who earn classification as “advanced practice pharmacists” will be able to initiate, adjust, or discontinue drugs after referral from a physician.

The law is scheduled to take effect in October, but CBOP is still creating protocols that spell out how pharmacists will prescribe birth control. Those protocols will have to be approved by several state agencies.


“The public doesn’t really know about the education that pharmacists get,” Mahtab Jafari of UC Irvine’s pharmaceutical sciences program told the newspaper. “What the public sees is a pharmacist behind the counter, counting pills and giving them medications, but pharmacists are very educated.”

Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, a co-sponsor of the law, predicted pharmacies will immediately take advantage of the law.
“I think they see this as an opportunity to expand patient services and they’ll see consumer demand for it very quickly,” he said.

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