Oregon Pharmacists Tasked to Improve Access to Hormonal Birth Control
Oregon pharmacists have been afforded the opportunity to increase safe access to hormonal birth control in a bill recently signed by Governor Brown. Rep. Knute Buhler, a physician in Bend, Oregon, working with colleagues in the legislature envisioned a process through which patient access to prescriptions for self-administered hormonal birth control could be enhanced. Patient safety concerns were addressed by assuring involvement of one of the country’s most trusted professionals, pharmacists.
The final version of HB 2879 involved consultation with the Oregon State Board of Pharmacy and collaborative discussions among representatives from several health professions. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has called for improved access to contraceptives for women, including the possibility of over-the-counter status. Their studies indicate that women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy would readily access all forms of self-administered birth control and can effectively self-screen for contraindications to hormonal therapy.
The Oregon law retains prescription status for self-administered hormonal birth control, but asks pharmacists to accept the role of prescriber following collaboratively developed rules that will include completion of a patient-administered self-screening tool. Pharmacists are well prepared with regard to therapeutic options, benefits and risks associated with the use of different hormonal birth control products, but will complete additional specialized education to familiarize them more fully in drug selection when initiating therapy. The State Board of Pharmacy, in consultation with the Oregon Medical Board, State Board of Nursing and Oregon Health Authority are charged to define educational requirements and develop rules that will govern practice.
Pharmacists’ status as healthcare providers and the important role that they play in collaborative patient care was confirmed by the legislature earlier in the 2015 session. Passage of HB 2028 allowed for development of additional protocols for pharmacist initiation of self-diagnostic therapies and collaborative management of chronic diseases. Utilizing pharmacists will assist in decreasing unintended pregnancies, while helping to maximize patient safety. Pharmacist prescribing of self-administered hormonal birth control, like pharmacist administered immunizations, is an opportunity to utilize the capabilities of the drug experts in the health care system to address a significant public health need.
The Oregon State Pharmacy Association (OSPA), an advocate for policies that positively impact Oregon’s pharmacists and patients, is pleased to provide answers to Frequently Asked Questions below regarding the enactment of HB 2879, increasing access to reproductive health for women across the state.