Advance Notice: Briefs

In Michigan, you can now get a prescription for birth control from your pharmacist

By: - September 20, 2022 12:38 pm

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Pharmacists in Michigan are now eligible to prescribe hormonal birth control in partnership with doctors. 

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made that announcement Monday following action from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) resulting from an executive directive Whitmer issued in May.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks before signing prescription cost-regulating legislation at the W. Saginaw Highway Meijer in Lansing, Feb. 23, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

That directive instructed state departments and agencies to identify and assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive health care in anticipation of Roe v. Wade being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“Today’s action clarifies that Michigan pharmacists with delegated authority can prescribe self-administered hormonal birth control — oral contraceptives, the patch, and the ring — expanding access to birth control for women across Michigan and ensuring that they can plan their own future on their own terms,” said Whitmer. “As reproductive freedom is under attack across the nation, we are using every tool in our toolbox here in Michigan to protect women. Access to birth control is critical to a woman’s ability to plan her family and chart her own destiny. We are taking action to guarantee that Michigan women have the right to easily make reproductive health care decisions that are best for them.”  

Under a new interpretative statement issued by LARA, licensed physicians can delegate to pharmacists the ability to prescribe self-administered, hormonal contraceptives in most circumstances. 

“Pharmacists are well-qualified to prescribe oral contraceptives, the patch, and the ring because their education and training includes a detailed understanding of the contents, impacts, and effects of drugs on the human body,” stated a press release from Whitmer’s office.

The statement added that it would now be easier for women to access birth control by clarifying eligibility for pharmacists and providing a template agreement to make the delegation easier. 

“The action allows pharmacists to opt into this program and does not require pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception if they do not want to,” continued the statement.

“This expansion allows for broader access to certain forms of birth control,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Chief Medical Executive of the State of Michigan. “Nearly 30% of U.S. women of childbearing age have reported difficulty obtaining or refilling birth control prescriptions.  Expanded access to hormonal contraceptives provides flexibility for women to manage their reproductive health outside their regularly scheduled health care appointments.” 

LARA is also encouraging physicians and pharmacists to review their individual circumstances and practices as well as consult with their respective attorneys to ensure that adequate procedures and drug protocols are provided and the scope of delegation is appropriate. 

In addition, staff with LARA’s Bureau of Professional Licensing will review prescription and dispensing practices during their routine pharmacy inspections and investigate any violations of Michigan’s Public Health Code.  

According to the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, Michigan joins 20 other states and the District of Columbia that have statutes or rules allowing pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control.

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Jon King
Jon King

Jon King has been a journalist for more than 35 years. He is the Past President of the Michigan Associated Press Media Editors Association and has been recognized for excellence numerous times, most recently in 2021 with the Best Investigative Story by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Cleary University. Jon and his family live in Howell, where he also serves on the Board of Directors for the Livingston Diversity Council.