Currently, nearly half a million women of reproductive age in the US live in counties with at most one prescriber of contraception per 1,000 of these women. Increasing both the number and types of clinicians that can provide contraception is central to decreasing barriers to accessing care. One promising state policy strategy is authorizing pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception. It is especially important to consider new avenues for providing contraception in light of increasing threats to reproductive healthcare.
In their new Health Affairs Forefront article, Julia Strasser, Director of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, and Ellen Schenk, Research Associate at the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity, examine how these state-level pharmacist policies translate into practice. Using prescription claims data from 2021, they identified 2,947 pharmacists who prescribe contraception in the 13 states that authorized it and found that a low proportion of retail pharmacists prescribe contraception. A number of barriers may prevent pharmacists from prescribing contraception, even in states where it’s authorized. These include lack of implementation support, employer regulations, lack of reimbursement, training requirements, and insufficient patient knowledge and empowerment.
“Prescribing Authority for Pharmacists Is Integral to Protecting Reproductive Health and Rights” was published in Health Affairs Forefront on March 21, 2023.