Pharmacist-Prescribed Contraceptives

Background

Background

Access to contraception empowers people to decide whether and when to become pregnant, influencing their health and well-being and supporting their reproductive autonomy. Contraception is widely used in the United States—the pill is the most common method, while an increasing number of people are using other hormonal methods. Many people could benefit from increased access to these methods. “Pharmacy access” laws authorize pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, which can make contraceptive care more accessible and affordable by eliminating the need for a separate visit to a health care provider to obtain a prescription. Importantly, pharmacist prescribing of contraceptives has been proven to be safe and effective.

In 2016, states began to implement pharmacy access policies for contraception. The language of the laws varies: Some do not name particular methods, some mention specific methods such as the patch or the pill, and some refer to the broader category of self-administered hormonal contraceptives. These laws usually allow any individual to seek contraceptive care at a pharmacy, although some prohibit or limit access for those who are 17 years old or younger. Some states require pharmacists to receive training in contraceptive care. State requirements differ, but patients may receive one or more of the following: educational materials, counseling from the pharmacist or a self-screening risk assessment tool that determines their eligibility for a particular method. Pharmacists in states where these laws have been passed can choose whether to provide contraceptive care, although some states also explicitly allow pharmacists to opt out.

Visit our state legislation tracker for policy activity on all sexual and reproductive health topics.

Highlights

  • 16 states and the District of Columbia allow pharmacists to provide contraceptive care.
  • 15 states specify the contraceptive methods that pharmacists are allowed to prescribe.
  • 8 states prohibit or limit pharmacist prescribing for patients who are 17 years old or younger.
  • 7 states require a patient to see a primary care provider after a specific period of time to continue receiving contraceptives from a pharmacist.
  • 13 states and DC place requirements on pharmacists regarding training or patient care.
    • 13 states and DC require pharmacists to receive training.
    • 9 states and DC require pharmacists to provide educational materials.
    • 10 states and DC require pharmacists to provide counseling.
    • 13 states and DC require pharmacists to use a screening tool to determine patient eligibility.

3 states explicitly allow pharmacists to refuse to prescribe contraceptives.

For more information

Pharmacist-Prescribed Contraceptives

State

Methods specified

Patient must:

Pharmacist must:

Pharmacist may refuse

 

 

Be 18 or older

See primary care provider to continue

Receive training

Provide educational materials

 Provide counseling

 Use screening tool

 

Arizona*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arkansas*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

Self-administered hormonal contraceptives, emergency contraception

 

 

X

X

X

X

 

Colorado

Patch, pill

X

Within 3 years

X

X

X

X

X

Delaware*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

District of Columbia

 

 

 

X

X

X

X

 

Hawaii

Self-administered hormonal contraceptives

 

 

X

 

 

X

 

Idahoβ

Contraceptive methods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illinois

Hormonal contraceptives

 

 

X

 

X

X

Maryland

Self-administered hormonal contraceptives

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

Minnesota

Self-administered hormonal contraceptives

 X^

 Within 3 years

X

X

 X

X

 

Nevada*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Hampshire*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Mexico

Hormonal and nonhormonal; over-the-counter and prescription, including pill, patch, injectable, ring, emergency contraception

 

Within 1 year

X

X

X

X

 

North Carolina

Pill, patch

X

 

X

X

X

X

 

Oregon

Pill, patch, injectable

X^

Within 3 years

X

 

 

X

 

Tennessee

Pill, patch

X

 

X

X

X

X

 

Utah

Self-administered hormonal contraceptives

X

Within 2 years

X

X

X

X

X

Vermont*

Pill, patch, ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virginia+

Self-administered hormonal contraceptives

 X

 Within 3 years

 X

 

 X

 X

 

Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia

Self-administered hormonal contraceptives

X

Within 1 year

X

X

X

X

X

TOTAL

15

8

7

13 + DC

9 + DC

10 + DC

13 + DC

3

Note: Self-administered hormonal contraceptives include the pill, the patch, the vaginal ring and the injectable.
β State has regulations in place, although they do not specify the protocols pharmacists use, and pharmacy access is available statewide.
* State enacted a pharmacy access law, but its regulations are not yet finalized.
Ω A broadly worded refusal clause may apply.
^ Patient can be younger than 18 with evidence of previous prescription. In North Carolina, parental consent is required for those younger than 18.
In Tennessee, emancipated minors are included as well.
+ Pharmacists may provide these services through telehealth.
Pharmacists may prescribe according to an agreement with a clinician who has prescribing authority. The agreement must specify the types of drugs the pharmacist is allowed to prescribe and the therapeutic decision-making process the pharmacist must follow.