Over-the-counter birth control pills now available in US

  • 05/01/2016

Women in Oregon are the first in the US to benefit from over-the-counter birth control following a law change allowing the product to be sold without a prescription.

In July, the Bill was signed into US law and birth control has been on sale in Oregon from January 1.

It is the first state in the country to implement this law, and California plans to do the same. US senators in Colorado and Washington have both introduced versions of Oregon’s new law.

Women who are at least 18 will be able to go to an Oregon pharmacy and will have to fill out a special health questionnaire. The pharmacist will then give them a prescription if suitable.

Women under 18 will still need a doctor's prescription before they can get pharmacist-provided birth control, though that regulation will go away in a few years under the law, KOIN6 reports.

"Just having birth control accessible through a pharmacist doesn't mean preventative health care isn't important. That's not what this law is saying," said Dr Alison Edelman of Oregon Health and Science University.

She supports the new law, which "is really allowing increased access to women for something that’s incredibly safe and a really big need for women".

Also on January 1, women in Oregon have been able to get a year-long supply of birth control pills at one time, as insurance companies are required to cover a full year under a new law.

According to KOIN6, a pharmacist can refuse to prescribe birth control for religious reasons, but they must refer a patient somewhere else.

There are fears from providers that women and younger women won't come in for their preventative check-ups if they can get their birth control through a pharmacist.

"It's still incredibly important to get preventative health care," she said, "even if you're getting your medications directly from a pharmacist, your birth control directly from a pharmacist," Dr Edelman says.

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