In May 2022, Governor Henry McMaster signed into law the Pharmacy Access Act, which provides for pharmacists to prescribe self-administered birth control and inject birth control shots without requiring a doctor’s prescription.
Patti Fabel, executive director of the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center, has served an integral role in helping to draft the initial training that pharmacists would be required to undergo in order to prescribe contraception.
“If you look at the data, maternal health rates in the southeast, particularly in South Carolina, are some of the worst in the country, and one of the best ways to improve maternal health outcomes is to prevent pregnancies in the first place, particularly if those pregnancies end up being unwanted,” Fabel says.
Fabel is also aware that there will be some hesitation for pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives. To help identify those barriers, Fabel turned to Tate Cook Owens, Pharm.D., ‘22, a postgraduate year one resident under the direction of KPIC, at Hawthorne Pharmacy and Medical Equipment in Columbia, South Carolina.
If you look at the data, maternal health rates in the southeast, particularly in South Carolina, are some of the worst in the country ...
Working with Tessa Hastings, assistant professor, and Ph.D. student Abbie Davies, Owens developed a survey to assess pharmacists’ perceptions on prescribing contraceptives as part of her residency research project. The survey was then sent to pharmacists across the state through the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy.
“The survey has helped us to gather information on whether pharmacists feel comfortable in prescribing hormonal contraceptives and some of the barriers they may see,” says Owens. “I was surprised by the number of responses we received so quickly, 170 in just two weeks, and I was also surprised by the number of pharmacists who are not aware of the Pharmacy Access Act.”
Owens presented her preliminary findings [pdf] to the SC Board of Pharmacy and will conduct another survey from the perspective of patients. Those results will be shared at the American Pharmacists Association annual meeting in March 2023.
To ensure the USC College of Pharmacy students are prepared, the college has already incorporated activities related to the Pharmacy Access Act into the second-year pharmacy student curriculum for professional development.
As a pharmacist, if you would like to share your responses, you still have an opportunity to take the survey through mid-January.
Topics: Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center, Community Pharmacy Residency Program, Research