In the coming year, there could be big changes when it comes to access to hormonal birth control like pills and patches. Opill, the first over-the-counter birth control pill approved in the US, could soon be available in stores and online, as confirmed by its manufacturer, Perrigo.
Furthermore, a growing number of states are considering legislation that permits patients to get prescriptions for birth control directly from pharmacists without a doctor’s visit. Connecticut and Rhode Island introduced state laws to this effect, with New York set to follow later in the year.
As of the latest data from the Guttmacher Institute, 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws enabling pharmacists to prescribe or provide contraception without a doctor’s prescription, including California, Vermont, Washington, Tennessee, and Nevada.
While some states expanded contraception access after the 2022 Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade, others have allowed pharmacists to prescribe birth control since 2016. Oregon was the pioneer in passing such a law in January 2016, followed shortly by California.
State policies on pharmacist-prescribed contraceptives vary significantly, with 18 states allowing access for patients of all ages. However, some states impose restrictions on minors seeking pharmacist-prescribed contraception.
Additionally, there may be different training requirements for pharmacists, and they may have the option to opt out of such training.
Overall, these policies aim to enhance contraception accessibility. A recent study suggests that around 71% of women aged 18 to 44 are interested in pharmacy-based contraception.
The study, published in the Journal of Women’s Health, surveyed nearly 3,000 women across Arizona, New Jersey, and Wisconsin between November 2019 and August 2020, revealing that 73% of respondents preferred accessing contraception through multiple sources.
In the coming months, Opill may become widely available. The FDA approved Opill, a “mini-pill” for over-the-counter availability last year. The cost of Opill has not been disclosed, but in states allowing pharmacist-prescribed birth control, patients may have the option to obtain coverage.