Historically, patients would only be able to get birth control with a prescription from a primary care physician or obstetrician gynecologist. Under the new order, patients are expected to access birth control faster and easier.
“Ensuring equitable access to the full range of high-quality and affordable family planning services is critically important to the public health of Illinois residents,” IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a statement. “(The) IDPH is committed to working with . . . pharmacists and health care providers across the state to ensure medically safe, appropriate access to these medications.”
More than 20 other states, including California and South Carolina, have enacted similar policies that allow residents to receive birth control from pharmacists.
The order builds on Illinois’ Public Act 102-0103, which was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2021 and paved a pathway for Illinoisans to access birth control over the counter once federal regulators approve certain methods for over-the-counter accessibility. The law also directed Medicaid to cover over-the-counter birth control costs for health insurance plans that currently cover physician-prescribed birth control.
That law and this week’s pharmacist order comes as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration is weighing whether to approve the sale of a birth control pill called Opill without a prescription. FDA advisers said Wednesday that doing so and expanding contraception access to women would outweigh any known risks.
Under this week’s order, pharmacists who intend to dispense birth control to patients are required to complete training from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. At the point of care, pharmacists will also need to ensure patients complete self-screening risk assessments and educate patients on how to safely take different contraception methods.
Pritzker supported the order, saying in a statement, “In Illinois, we respect a woman’s right to make reproductive health choices.”
The new order will apply to pharmacists at local pharmacy chains, such as Deerfield-based Walgreens, which has hundreds of stores in Illinois. The pharmacy giant said in a statement to Crain’s that it is “reviewing” the order and did not answer specific questions about whether its pharmacists will undergo the necessary training to dispense birth control.
This week’s birth control order is just the latest reproductive issue Illinois has focused on in recent years, and especially since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark piece of legislation that protected Americans’ right to an abortion.
In 2019, Pritzker signed the Illinois Reproductive Health Act, which made abortions a fundamental right in the state and required most private health insurance plans in Illinois to cover abortion as they do for any other pregnancy care.
Soon after the overturning of Roe, Illinois’ Medicaid program began paying more to cover the cost of abortion services, and just last month, amid uncertainty that abortion medication mifepristone could be outlawed nationwide, Illinois helped the state’s health care providers stock up an alternative abortion-inducing drug called misoprostol.
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May 12, 2023 at 03:58PM