NJ Pharmacists Could Soon Prescribe Birth Control


New Jersey could become the next US state to permit pharmacists to provide birth control without a prescription.

New Jersey could become the next US state to permit pharmacists to provide birth control without a prescription.

A state senate panel recently approved a bill by a 6-0 margin that would allow pharmacists in New Jersey to prescribe self-administered hormonal contraceptives to women older than 18 years.

Under the pending legislation, pharmacists wishing to dispense contraceptives would first have to complete a training program that will be developed by the New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy. The bill’s current language also requires the New Jersey Pharmacist Association, NJ Board of Medical Examiners, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other entities deemed appropriate to establish protocols for oral birth control prescribing and dispensing.

Like other states, New Jersey would require pharmacists to provide a self-screening risk assessment tool prior to prescribing birth control. Based on the results, the pharmacist could either dispense the contraceptive or refer the woman to a physician.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 53% of all pregnancies in New Jersey in 2010 were unintended.

“This legislation will provide women with the convenience of easier access to their health care needs at a pharmacy versus making an unnecessary trip to the doctor for a routine contraceptive,” stated bill co-sponsor Senator Joseph Vitale, in a press release. “Pharmacists are highly-qualified professionals and an excellent resource for patients within the community. Providing increased access to self-administered contraceptives in a controlled setting will keep women’s health within reach and ensure safety.”

However, services under New Jersey’s legislation may not be entirely cost-free.

Laurie Clark, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, noted that California allows pharmacies to charge a $10 counseling fee to help cover related expenses.

“It’s quite a bit of additional work,” Clark told the Burlington County Times.

New Jersey’s bill generally follows the same guiding principles underpinning legislation passed in Oregon and California and being considered in Tennessee, Washington, and several other states: removing barriers that prevent women from accessing birth control is a common-sense approach to improving public health.

“As forms of contraceptives have advanced and modernized, the way women access most forms of birth control has not,” noted bill co-sponsor Senator Shirley K. Turner in a press release.

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