Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in expanding the services and authority of pharmacists to prescribe and dispense some hormonal birth control methods directly. This means that rather than first getting a prescription from a doctor, patients can go to their local pharmacy for the prescription and medication. Earlier this year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law that allows people in NC to buy contraceptive pills and patches at local drugstores and community pharmacies after a brief consultation with a pharmacist. Village Pharmacy is one of those community pharmacies where the pharmacist can now prescribe and dispense self-administered birth control including the pill, patch, ring, and shot.
Allowing pharmacists to prescribe in addition to dispensing is not a new concept nor is it limited to birth control. Many states, including NC, provide pharmacists with varying levels of prescribing authority for certain products. Statewide protocols do not require agreements with physicians, as the authority comes directly from the state. However, pharmacists are required to undergo training and to refer patients at some point in the process to their primary care provider, or local providers for patients that do not already have one.
A nationwide survey indicated that 67% of women said they would benefit from accessing contraception directly from a pharmacist without having to pay a fee to visit a physician or clinic. For example, if a prescription runs out and the patient either doesn’t have a doctor, or time to see a doctor in order to get a refill, a pharmacist can prescribe the birth control and fill the prescription. This service is also available to women who have never been prescribed birth control. Some research suggests that pharmacists are helping to fill gaps; a 2019 study found women receiving contraception from a pharmacist were more likely to be younger, uninsured, and have less education than women seeing clinicians.
Not just limited to contraceptives, an immunizing pharmacist may dispense, deliver, or administer the following medications:
- Nicotine replacement therapy that is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
- Self-administered oral or transdermal contraceptives after the patient completes an assessment consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s United States Medical Eligibility Criteria (US MEC) for Contraceptive Use.
- Prenatal vitamins.
- Post-exposure prophylaxis medications for the prevention of human immunodeficiency virus(HIV) pursuant to guidelines and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Glucagon for the treatment of severe hypoglycemia.
As a pharmacy we must also:
- Maintain a record of medication administered to the patient in a patient profile.
- Within 72 hours after administration of the medication, notify any primary care provider identified by the patient. If the patient does not identify a primary care provider, the immunizing pharmacist shall direct the patient to information describing the benefits to a patient of having a primary care provider, including information about federally qualified health centers, free clinics, and local health departments, prepared by any of the following: North Carolina Medical Board, North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, North Carolina Medical Society, or Community Care of North Carolina.
- Furnish patient records to the patient upon the patient’s request.
- Furnish patient records to the primary care provider identified by the patient upon the primary care provider’s request.
- If the immunizing pharmacist has administered or dispensed a hormonal contraceptive to the patient, the immunizing pharmacist shall counsel the patient about preventative care, including well-woman visits, sexually transmitted infection testing information, and Pap smear testing.
- Comply with rules adopted by the North Carolina Medical Board and the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy governing the approval of the individual immunizing pharmacist to dispense, deliver, or administer the medications with limitations that the Boards determine to be in the best interest of patient health and safety.
- Have current approval from both Boards.
If you are in need of one of the above services for a prescription, call 910-319-6050 or visit our website to make an appointment.