As reported by Jenny Brown in the Feb. 27 edition of the Denver Post, "Colorado pharmacists soon can begin prescribing oral contraceptives under a new protocol that will provide unprecedented access to birth control in this state.
"Women who are at least 18 can complete a questionnaire, blood-pressure check and a 10- to 15-minute consultation with a pharmacist, then walk out with birth-control pills or patches, under new rules set in motion by a 2016 state law with bipartisan support. Colorado is just the third state with such access, joining Oregon and California.
"The law, passed last year, allowed the boards of medicine, nursing and pharmacy, along with the state health department, to create protocols for pharmacists to provide services that tackle public health needs. At the top of the list, based on a survey of medical professionals, was hormonal contraception."
University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Assistant Dean Gina Moore, PharmD, alumni Sue Mead, RPh, and Kelsey Schwander, PharmD were interviewed for the article. Dr. Moore was extremely involved in advocating for the legislation and together with Emily Zadvorny, PharmD, has been working with the medical boards Colorado Board of Medicine, Boards of Nursing and Pharmacy and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to determine the protocols that are being launched. Pharmacists who have completed additional training will now be able to prescribe birth control, and cannot prescribe oral contraceptives for more than three years without a visit to a physician or primary care provider. The way it works is that the pharmacist writes the prescription per protocol after discussing options with the patient, checking that oral contraceptives are an appropriate option, and counseling the patient on potential side effects. "This is what pharmacists are trained to do. We're medications experts who are extremely knowledgeable about medications and their side effects. It allows us to operate at the height of our profession while assisting patients where they need it when," says Moore. Moore continues, "It also expands health care access for many patients in need and showcases how pharmacists are an important part of the health care team." Read the rest of the article here.
The Denver Post followed up the article with an opinion piece two days after their first piece published. The overwhelming positive op-ed focused on bi-partisan support of the bill and the legislature working together to pass legislation that would make it easier for patients to obtain access to care, including contraceptives. It is anticipated that pharmacists will be able to prescribe, after 5 hours of continuing education training, as soon as the end of this month. The next protocol that the healthcare community will be tackling is tobacco cessation.