Focus on Women’s Health, From Contraception to Well-Being

Pharmacy TimesMay 2024
Volume 90
Issue 5

Pharmacists play an important—and expanding—role in women’s health care.

May is Women’s Health Awareness Month and the perfect time to highlight the vital role pharmacists play in medication therapy management (MTM). From reproductive health to osteoporosis prevention, pharmacists can provide a variety of services to support women’s health initiatives such as health screening, maternal vaccinations, and reproductive health services. One of the goals of Healthy People 2030 focuses on women’s health, including topics such as cancer, family planning, foodborne illness, osteoporosis, pregnancy and childbirth, sexually transmitted infections, tobacco use, and vaccinations.1

To address these goals, the Biden administration launched the first White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research in November 2023 with $100 million in research funding.2 It is being led by First Lady Jill Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council.3 These initiatives can involve a multidisciplinary team with pharmacists at the forefront of patient-centered care.

About the Author

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, PACS, is a drug information pharmacist and Pharmacy Times contributor who resides in South Florida.

Women’s Health and MTM

The White House Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access emphasizes the important role pharmacies play in providing access to medication abortion4; major retail pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS are now certified to dispense mifepristone for abortion.5 The task force also emphasizes the importance of ensuring patients have access to affordable contraception.4 In addition, reproductive health research is important for enhancing patient outcomes.4

As the first OTC oral contraceptive pill, norgestrel (Opill; Perrigo) is now available, pharmacists’ opportunities for reproductive health counseling continue to expand.6 For instance, the Veterans Affairs (VA) MidSouth Healthcare Network’s Clinical Resource Hub (CRH) is launching a pilot program that provides virtual women’s health pharmacy consultations to veterans through September 2024.7 Pharmacists who are part of the VA CRH program can prescribe, make dose adjustments, and monitor patients who are receiving women’s health therapies. Pharmacotherapy options include oral contraceptives, osteoporosis therapies, infertility treatments, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and pregnancy and postpartum medications.7

Pharmacists can also play a critical role in improving maternal vaccination efforts. One recent study examined COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. The study results showed that vaccination provided infant protection against COVID-19 symptomatic infection for 6 months.8 Additionally, a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine further enhanced protection.8

Women’s health education for pharmacists and students is critical for providing MTM services with evidence-based information. Many continuing education opportunities for pharmacists focus on women’s health, with topics including contraception, HRT, osteoporosis, pregnancy, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.9 Staying up to date on the latest medications and clinical practice guidelines is vital.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) and the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health developed a free women’s health curriculum for pharmacy students.10 Pharmacy faculty can incorporate this into their curriculum to educate pharmacy students about women’s health topics. Teaching strategies for faculty also are included.

The AACP curriculum provides learning objectives and competencies about women’s health topics, including contraception, polycystic ovary syndrome, pregnancy and lactation, and osteoporosis.10 Patient cases and drug information questions are included as interactive components of the curriculum. Pharmacy preceptors can also incorporate these learning modules during clinical rotations.

1. Healthy People 2030. Goal: promote health and well-being for women. US Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed March 8, 2024.
2. Launch of White House initiative on women’s health research. News release. White House. November 17, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2024.
3. Remarks as prepared for delivery by First Lady Jill Biden to announce the $100 million ARPA-H Sprint for Women’s Health. News release. White House. February 21, 2024. Accessed March 8, 2024.
4. FACT SHEET: White House Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access announces new actions and marks the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. White House. January 22, 2024. Accessed March 8, 2024.
5. Statement from President Joe Biden on major retail pharmacies becoming certified to dispense safe and effective medication abortion. News release. White House. March 1, 2024. Accessed March 8, 2024.
6. FDA approves first nonprescription daily oral contraceptive. News release. FDA. July 13, 2023. Accessed March 8, 2024.
7. New VA pilot pharmacy program provides consultations to women veterans centered around women’s health treatments. US Department of Veterans Affairs. January 25, 2024. Accessed March 8, 2024.,Today%2C%20the%20Department%20of%20Veterans%20Affairs%27%20MidSouth%20Health%20Care%20Network%27s,to%20health%20services%20for%20women
8. Cardemil CV, Cao Y, Posavad CM, et al; MOMI-Vax Study Group. Maternal COVID-19 vaccination and prevention of symptomatic infection in infants. Pediatrics. 2024;153(3):e2023064252. doi:10.1542/peds.2023-064252
9. Moreau C, Wilson DL. Review of continuing education and published literature related to women’s health and pharmacy. J Pharm Technol. 2015;31(2):69-77.doi:10.1177/8755122514552496
10. Women’s Health Curriculum. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Accessed March 8, 2024. womens-health-curriculum
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