California pharmacists can already dispense emergency contraception, so why not birth control pills?
SB 493, signed in to law on October 1, 2013, expands the role of pharmacists as health care providers. The law had an effective date of January 1, 2014. More about that later.
California state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-24), an optometrist, who introduced this bill and several others in 2013, deserves a lot of credit. He explained that the Affordable Care Act’s creation of a “huge need” for primary care providers “prompted me to introduce a series of scope of practice bills to address the issue,” including SB 493 for pharmacists.
“Political battles over scope of practice are contentious for any profession. I knew that going in,” recalled California state Sen. Ed Hernandez, OD, (D-24) who last year introduced a series of scope of practice bills.So what's the hold up? Trying to find that information is frustrating and required quite a bit of research. While it appears that the California Board of Pharmacy, officially responsible for the bill's implementation, has moved surprisingly slowly on something that a reasonable person would think should have been the highest priority, the road blocks appear to have been created by California's Medical Association. To assuage their protests that pharmacists were underqualified, the Pharmacy Board, in consultation with them, implemented special training and credentials - Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APP). See: Prescription for the Future. More on the APP and what it authorizes pharmacists to do here: Pharmacist Provider Status and the APP
...“I’ve always said this: pharmacists are completely overtrained and underutilized...”
Hernandez believes that SB 493 is now one of the most progressive laws in the country. Because California is one of the largest states, “you’re going to see a lot more [states] move in that direction,” he said. “The culture of pharmacy needs to change from that of getting reimbursed for dispensing a product to being recognized as a provider and getting reimbursed for providing a service.”
Hernandez and California's New Provider Status Law
Slowly but surely, it looks like California women will soon be able to avoid waiting for a doctor's appointment and paying for an office visit.
Women will be able to walk up to a pharmacy counter, say they’d like contraception (whether it's the pill or another method), take a short health questionnaire, have their blood pressure taken, get a consultation on dosage and other key pieces of information, and walk out with birth control that very visit.Oregon is expected to be next and, lo and behold, a Republican legislator who is an MD is behind the measure!
The screening protocols, which California’s board of pharmacy established in April, are expected to be officially filed with state regulators soon. Any pharmacist can offer the service. California will be the first U.S. state where pharmacists can prescribe birth control. Will others follow?
Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), who is a physician, offered an amendment to a bill outlining what pharmacists can do. He said it didn’t make sense to him that pharmacists could give out emergency contraceptives but not preventive ones.
Two Western States May Let Pharmacists Prescribe Birth Control Pills, No Doctor Required