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CT lawmakers take up legislation that would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control

Health cover story on the ins and outs of birth control pills.
Kirk McKoy
/
Los Angeles Times via Getty
At least 20 states have laws or standing orders that allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control, according to the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists. In 2013, California was the first state to pass such a bill, the organization said.

Connecticut lawmakers on Monday took up a proposed bill that would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control, instead of requiring a trip to the doctor.

State Sen. Ryan Fazio, R-Greenwich, helped file the bill.

The legislation, which has bipartisan support, is designed to give women more options, Fazio told colleagues on the Public Health Committee. Pharmacists in several other states can already prescribe birth control pills, he said.

“We want to improve access for women for something that has been widely used and normal for over 60 years,” he said. “We also wanted to look towards what works in other states and what’s tried and true and proven.”

Gov. Ned Lamont has expressed support for similar legislation.

There are many obstacles that can put contraception out of reach for people in Connecticut, said Nathan Tinker, CEO of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association, which supports the proposed bill.

“Giving women the freedom to decide not only whether to seek contraception, but where to do so, is one further step in realizing the vision of accessible and equitable health care,” Tinker said.

There were several people who submitted testimony opposing the proposed legislation.

Contraception is already readily available in established women’s health practices, said Dr. Anthony Yoder, co-chair of the Health and Public Policy Committee for the Connecticut chapter of the American College of Physicians.

“We are concerned that this bypasses many safeguards in place in a primary care office or by a practitioner with access to the full scope of a patient’s medical history,” Yoder said. “Expanded roles for pharmacists should be based on what is in the patient’s best interest, and giving prescriptive authority without scope review poses several regulatory issues as well as safety ... concerns.”

At least 20 states have laws or standing orders that allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control, according to the American Society for Health-System Pharmacists. In 2013, California was the first state to pass such a bill, the organization said.

“Pharmacists are an underutilized and essential resource for so many Americans, especially for people who live far from other healthcare providers or have limited access for other reasons,” Tom Kraus, ASHP’s vice president of government relations, said in a statement.

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