(Photo above Rep. Knute Beuhler)
On Friday the House Health Care Committee will vote on HB 2028, a measure to adjust the services pharmacists can provide. In addition to other provisions of the bill, Rep. Knute Buehler introduced the amendment to allow pharmacists to provide oral birth control pills without a previous doctor’s visit.
“Improving access to birth control will give women more options and more control over their health care needs,” said Buehler. “As a doctor, I believe birth control should be as easy and accessible as possible. If a woman wants to purchase birth control at her local pharmacy, she should be able to do that without having to schedule an appointment with a doctor.”
The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Board of Pharmacists would be responsible for structuring rules to ensure safe distribution of the contraceptives – including limiting it to adults 18 years or older, requiring a self-screening test, and notifying the customer’s primary care provider. The contraceptives would still be covered by insurance, which is important to lower costs for consumers.
“Studies have shown that if you make oral contraceptives available at local pharmacies and give women more choices, it will reduce unintended pregnancies and improve women’s health,” explained Rep. Buehler. “Women will have a choice to see a pharmacist or consult their doctor to access oral birth control pills. This amendment requires a self-screening test at the pharmacy to cover information such as side effects, risk of sexually transmitted diseases and risk of pregnancy.”
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed over the counter birth control to reduce unintended pregnancies since 2012. Since ACOG’s recommendation, California has passed similar legislation, allowing pharmacists to sell oral contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription. In addition, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, published a study showing that making oral contraceptives available over the counter could reduce unintended pregnancies by up to 25 percent.