EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVES CONTINUE TO DIVIDE PHARMACY

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Although the pharmacy profession remains deeply divided over the availability of emergency contraceptive (EC) products, pharmacists in New Mexico appear to be "generally supportive" of a 2003 state law that granted them prescriptive authority for ECs, according to a new study reported in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association.

More than 60% of the New Mexico pharmacists surveyed either "agreed" or "strongly agreed" with statements supporting the prescribing of ECs by pharmacists. At the same time, however, 30% opposed these drugs on religious or moral grounds, and 17% said that ECs should be made available only in cases of rape or incest.

Although 4 of 10 pharmacists surveyed expressed an interest in becoming certified to prescribe ECs, the researchers found that pharmacists in New Mexico were not particularly knowledgeable about these products.

According to the investigators, this "less-than-ideal level of knowledge about [ECs]" by some pharmacists and the nonsupportive attitudes of others raise a "substantial concern" about the viability of FDA proposals to permit OTC sales of ECs.