Colorado pharmacists can now prescribe contraception

Women can get needed care from most accessible health care provider

Colorado has become the third state to authorize pharmacists to prescribe oral contraception. The initiative will increase women’s access to care, provide a convenient process to get needed medications, and could help to reduce unplanned pregnancies.

“For years, women have had to see a doctor or primary care provider for access to contraception. Now, the majority of women can be safely screened and provided direct access to oral contraceptive agents or birth control pills after direct consultation with a pharmacist,” said Gina Moore, PharmD, MBA, assistant dean for clinical and professional affairs at University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Pharmacists will receive training before they begin offering the service in their pharmacies. Patients seeking pharmacist-prescribed contraception will be screened for potential contraindications and underlying health conditions that can affect what contraceptive is most appropriate and ensure contraception is safe for them.

Pharmacist-prescribed contraception is not intended to replace medical care. “While women should continue to see a physician or other provider for routine health screenings and well-woman checks, easier access to contraception is expected to decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in our state,” Moore added.

Pharmacist-prescribed contraception is the first statewide protocol rolled out as a result of Colorado SB 16-135, which allowed the Boards of Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to collaborate on statewide protocols to address public health needs, improve patient outcomes, and save costs to the health care system.

Another protocol under consideration would authorize pharmacists to furnish smoking-cessation medications and support.

California and Oregon also allow pharmacists to prescribe contraception.