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Turner-Vitale Bill to Ease Access to Oral Contraceptives Clears Committee

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TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Shirley K. Turner and Joseph F. Vitale permitting pharmacist to distribute contraceptives under certain guidelines agreed to by members of the medical community and pharmacist cleared the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

“As forms of contraceptives have advanced and modernized, the way women access most forms of birth control has not,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Women must still take time from their schedule to see a doctor and get a prescription. More women are working and handling the everyday demands of life; fitting a doctor’s appointment into their day is just not always possible. Most pharmacies can accommodate walk-in patients and pharmacists can safely dispense contraception without a prescription.”

“This legislation will provide women with the convenience of easier access to their health care needs at a pharmacy versus making an unnecessary trip to the doctor for a routine contraceptive,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Pharmacists are highly-qualified professionals and an excellent resource for patients within the community. Providing increased access to self-administered contraceptives in a controlled setting will keep women’s health within reach and ensure safety.”

SCS-1073/2060 would require the New Jersey Pharmacist Association, NJ Board of Medical Examiners, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and other appropriate entities to adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act” to establish standard procedures for the prescribing and dispensing of self-administered hormonal contraceptives by pharmacists.

There is also a requirement that in order to receive a self-administered hormonal contraceptive, the patient must use a self-screening tool that identifies patient risk factors for the use of self-administered hormonal contraceptives.

The bill would also amend various statutes to clarify that, in addition to providing coverage for prescriptions issued by other health care professionals, health insurance carriers that provide benefits for prescription female contraceptives must provide coverage for prescriptions for self-administered hormonal contraceptives in situations in which the prescription is issued by a pharmacist acting pursuant to the authority provided by the bill.

Both Oregon and California have passed similar measures in 2015. Hawaii, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington are all considering similar laws.

Nothing in the bill would expand the authority of a pharmacist to prescribe prescription medication.

The bill cleared the committee 6-0-2 and now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.