Law says Tennessee women can get birth control without prescription

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Women 18 years or over in Tennessee may soon be able to get birth control without getting a prescription from their doctor. A law passed in the Tennessee legislature last year made this possible. It said a pharmacist can give a woman birth control if the pharmacy has a special agreement, called a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement, with a physician.

“We are definitely gung ho for any opportunity to help patients,” said Jamie Price, a pharmacist at Mac’s Pharmacy.

Under this law, Price is able to provide birth control to patients if she enters into a collaborative pharmacy practice agreement, or CPA, with a physician. Right now, pharmacists in Tennessee do not have the lawful authority to prescribe birth control.

Related story: Birth control available without doctor visit in Colorado

“However, under a collaborative practice agreement with a physician, I am able to adhere to his or her rules and basically provide better access to birth control,” she said.

This is something her pharmacy is seriously looking into. Before a pharmacist can give out birth control, they must complete a training program approved by the Tennessee Department of Health. To Mac’s Pharmacy’s understanding, one hasn’t been created yet.

“Once we have that, then we can talk to willing prescribers,” she said.

Under the law, pharmacists must also provide the patient with a self-screening risk assessment tool, contact information of a primary care practitioner, and a standardized fact sheet for use of the drug.

“I am actually excited about it also because it will allow more access,” said Dr. Duythu Martin, an OB/GYN.

Dr. Martin thought this law will prevent even more unwanted pregnancies. Some women were getting behind it too.

“I wouldn’t have to make it to the doctor’s appointments just for birth control, especially when you don’t have the time and the money,” said Cinnamon Lindsey.

There are some concerns though about the new law. Dr. Martin said young women tend to only go to a doctor to get their birth control prescription. She was worried they will not go to a doctor as frequently. She still recommended seeing an OB/GYN for routine check ups.

Rep. Patsy Hazlewood was the Tennessee House sponsor of the bill. She sent WATE 6 On Your Side the following statement:

“I was very pleased to be able to get this legislation passed in 2016. Ultimately it’s going to provide more access to safe birth control for women of child bearing age in Tennessee. However, there is a process that must be followed in order to make sure that access does not come at the expense of a woman’s health.  The rule making process to develop the safety standards and procedures for enactment are currently underway. We look forward to the implementation of this legislation.”

Tennessee is not the only state with this type of law. Colorado, California and Oregon have similar ones but in those states, pharmacists do not need to work with a physician to give out birth control.

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