Birth Control Prescribed by Pharmacists

According to a news release from the University of Washington's School of Pharmacy, 8 Seattle-area pharmacies are collaborating in a study to provide birth control (oral contraceptives, contraceptive patches, or vaginal rings) to 300 women without first requiring that they visit a clinic or physician. The objective is to test the feasibility of pharmacists prescribing hormonal contraceptives. For the last 6 years, pharmacists in Washington State have been able to prescribe the "morning after" pill.

Although the new study is designed to dispense birth control without a doctor's prescription, the process is not without checks and balances. Women must provide answers to 23 specific questions designed to disclose contraindications to their using hormonal contraceptives. The pharmacist will decide whether and what to prescribe. The initial prescription will only be for three cycles (months) after which the women must return to the pharmacy for additional evaluation including remeasurement of their blood pressure and weight. The women may then be prescribed another ten cycles of birth control.

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